HWDSB launches new ‘initiatives’ ahead of anti-bullying week

Just days after revealing the members of its new anti-bullying review panel, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has launched new resources and initiatives aimed at bullying prevention and intervention.

Director of Education, Manny Figueiredo, said the new supports will help students, parents, and staff members feel safe, comfortable and accepted.

“We’ve heard from the community and our staff that to tackle the complex challenge of bullying, the more focus and support the better. We are committed to offering and facilitating dedicated opportunities to share information, learn from others and work toward improving our approach,” said Figueiredo in a news release.

The initiatives include a dedicated public website that will house all guides and supports used in schools for bullying prevention and intervention; training for all school staff on Emotion Coaching, a method that helps students self-regulate and gain skills to use when feeling challenged; a mandatory full-day meeting of principals and vice-principals dedicated to bullying prevention, intervention, responding and reporting; a new educational and awareness package created for parents that includes material explaining methods of reporting bullying and advice for families navigating a bullying concern; new targeted classroom activities and modules for students during Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week; Redeployment of HWDSB Helps, a free and anonymous way for students to find help for themselves and one another using text, web and app conversations; dedicated training for all teachers during a scheduled PA Day; and creating a parent conference on Safe Schools, which will happen in 2020.

Earlier this week, the HWDSB appointed Dr. Jean Clinton, Brenda Flaherty, and Dr. Gary Warner to the “Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel.” The team will also be supported by Kiki Ojo-Thompson, a principal consultant at the KOJO Institute.

The panel’s role is to provide feedback and recommendations on how to prevent, intervene, report and respond to bullying in schools and in the community.

It was created in the wake of the death of 14-year-old Devan Selvey who was fatally stabbed outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School last month. The teen’s mother, Shari-Ann, has said her son was incessantly bullied since he started school in September.

A 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man have been charged with first-degree murder in the teen’s death.

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