Queen’s Park is pledging funds and new policies which officials say will combat bullying in schools.
School boards will now be required to have specific anti-bullying policies in place which address the role that social media can play in student harassment.
“The protocol will help foster more welcoming and supportive school communities, with an emphasis on preventing bullying and hate in schools,” reads Thursday’s statement. “For the first time, there are specific references regarding religiously motivated discrimination, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, along with discrimination based on sexual orientation and racism.”
Officials note that 42 per cent of youth living with disabilities in Canada have been bullied at school because of their condition. They’re earmarking $70,000 for the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario “to help build safer and more inclusive classrooms in Ontario for students with special education needs.”
Another $47,000 will go to the Rick Hansen Foundation “to create inclusion and disability-based bullying resources.” This includes special presentations and activities for students to learn how kindness can stop bullying.
“Bullying against students with disabilities is reprehensible,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce in a statement. “By working together, we will stop bullying, save lives, and advance the values of respect, unity, and human dignity. These partnerships will help students and school communities act decisively to counter bullying, wherever it takes place – online, in-class, or on the playground.”
“When our schools and classrooms are inclusive of kids of all abilities, we foster a community that welcomes diversity,” said Rick Hansen, founder of his own eponymous foundation, in a statement. “By teaching our students the value of diversity and kindness, we empower them to join in the journey to help create an accessible and inclusive world.”