Hamilton’s public school system has released draft recommendations from a bullying prevention panel ahead of a final report expected in 2021.
The draft report, derived from several community consultations, recommends elevating student voices, engaging community partners, and a request for funding from the ministry of education, among other things.
The Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel — conceived just months after the stabbing death of Devan Selvey in October 2019 outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School — was a year-long initiative studying how schools could better address and prevent bullying.
Public feedback over the past year revealed that about 60 per cent of students enrolled in a Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) were bullied and that 20 per cent were bullied frequently, pre-COVID-19.
Meanwhile, 71 per cent of staff surveyed say they witnessed frequent student bullying in the last school year prior to the pandemic.
The recommendations include:
- elevating the student voice
- review plans and programs on student inclusion
- engage parents
- equip schools effective response including utilization of PREVNet hub
- review existing policies with respect to equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression
- address inconsistent adherence to existing bullying prevention and intervention guidelines
- establish a clear vision for bullying prevention and intervention
- review leadership development strategy
- strengthen and build community partnerships
- seek commitment from the ministry of education for funding, bullying expertise, including an update to the learning curriculum
The process was led by a review panel lead by Jean Clinton, a clinical professor in the department of psychology, psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University, Brenda Flaherty, an assistant professor at McMaster’s school of nursing, and Gary Warner, a former professor who has experience with issues related to poverty, human rights, anti-racism, immigration and social justice.
The final report, originally set for release in December, has been put off until 2021 to add consultation sessions that HWDSB director Manny Figueiredo considers “essential” to the process.
Figueiredo told Global News in November that the extension will allow for a complete literature review and analysis of previous consultation sessions.
The next two feedback sessions will be virtual on zoom this week, one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday. Both panels will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thoughts about the draft recommendations can be on the school board’s Thoughexchange portal.