The Calgary Board of Education released an independent review about school bullying on Wednesday, launched this spring after several incidents of bullying were reported to the CBE.
The purpose of the review was to measure the effectiveness of the CBE’s policy framework and practices to address bullying.
It was conducted by Dr. Kent Donlevy, an associate professor in the Werklund School of Education, the chair of the Research Ethics Appeal Board and the grievance advisor for the Faculty Association at the University of Calgary.
Donlevy’s review found that bullying, as defined by the province’s Education Act, is rare in CBE schools. The review also said that CBE regulations and practices to address bullying are “fundamentally sound.”
But according to the chief superintendent of schools, the CBE still has some work to do when it comes to bullying.
“Dr. Donlevy concluded that we do not have a common understanding related to bullying and its definition,” said Christopher Usih. “As a school division, we need to further support our staff, students and parents to build this understanding of bullying and how to address it consistently.”
Among the recommendations in the review:
- the CBE should start to keep statistics on bullying.
- teachers should be given more time to learn how to deal with bullying, as should all parents who interact with students.
“Non-teachers who are supervising at schools should have training in aggression, how to deal with aggression,” Donlevy said.
Another finding was related to bullying and sexting.
“There’s a great concern of intimate images being used in bullying in high schools,” Donlevy said. He also wants to see student anger management added to the school curriculum
Dare to Care, a bullying prevention group, said the recommendations are fantastic but people should not take comfort in the review calling bullying “rare” by its strict definition.
“It is rampant. At every school we go to, we ask the kids, ‘Do you think there is an issue with bullying in the school?’ And we get at least 75 per cent in every school saying, ‘Yeah, we have an issue,'” said Lisa Dixon-Wells, founder of Dare to Care.
The CBE’s chief superintendent also addressed criticism that no parents and students were included in the review.
“We need a bit of time to determine our next steps, and those next steps will be determined in consultation with staff and certainly students, parents and families,” Usih said.
Usih said over the course of the 2019-20 school year, the CBE will continue to have conversations with students, parents and staff to learn from their experiences and to seek their input and suggestions for improvement.
The review was launched in May 2019, two months after a nine-year-old Syrian girl in Calgary died by suicide. Her parents said their daughter was bullied for months. The CBE has contacted the girl’s family about the review. The family told Global News they have no comment at this time.