The Catholic Independent Schools of British Columbia are in the midst of promoting a campaign which sees them publically committed to anti-bullying policies.
The CISBC rolled out a Bully-Free School initiative earlier this year, which brings together an online presence for anti-bullying strategies as well as resources for families and educators.
The campaign stems from the website www.cisva.bc.ca/bullyfreeschool on which can be found resources for students allowing them to report instances of bullying, parent resources for dealing with bullies, posters to promote the initiative, and more. It also incorporates a social media aspect as the CISBC created a Twitter and Facebook presence to accompany the bully-free school campaign.
“CISBC has developed a student Code of Conduct and anti-bullying policies that reflect the concerns in today’s world,” the website states. “CISBC is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for all its students.”
The new website also incorporates links to sections in its policy which was approved in September of last year and revised in December of 2012. The policy focuses on the Church’s belief in the dignity of persons which it states on the website, “teaches us to discard labels and address true human needs – to be free from hatred, to be loved, to be supported by the Catholic school community in living the gospel life all are called to live.”
The five dioceses in British Columbia have spent years fine-tuning the Bully-free School program, officially launching it in January 2013. While a portion of the campaign is implementing the anti-bullying policies, it also includes links to valuable resources for both students and parents. An additional benefit to this is the provincial government’s ERASE (Expect Respect and A Safe Education) program which includes an online bullying reporting tool. In addition, the program also outlines procedures on how educators should respond to instances of bullying.
Beverly Pulyk, superintendent of the Catholic Independent Schools of Nelson Diocese and chairperson of the Catholic Independent Schools of British Columbia, said that the topic is something that needs to stay current and top-of-mind. “Bullying is a reality in all schools; every school needs to have an awareness of this,” she said. “There’s still a silence surrounding bullying that needs to be broken.”
She said there needs to be ongoing education and support for both students and educators about the topic. “Our schools have been using provincial and other faith-based resources for quite some time already,” she said. “As Catholic schools, our focus has always been about respect.”
Pulyk said the schools in the Nelson Diocese have had policies in place for years. When the provincial Ministry of Education launched its ERASE program, Catholic Independent Schools of British Columbia felt they needed to be included, as they were committed to having a parallel program.
So, she said the Federation of Independent School Associations of BC lobbied the government to allow the independent schools to access its anti-bullying program, for the betterment of students. Pulyk noted this is important from numerous standpoints, but especially because being included in the provincial initiative means that educators from Catholic Independent Schools can also access the professional development needed to provide anti-bullying training and learn how to best support students through common reporting practices.
Pulyk said the Catholic Independent Schools of British Columbia are all committed to Bully Free Schools and providing a safe place to learn for their students. View the website and accompanying policies at www.cisva.bc.ca/bullyfreeschool.