Three anonymous complaints of bullying have been made to School District 43 since the province launched its ERASE online reporting tool two months ago, including one about possible cyberbullying on Facebook.
All were investigated with results sent to ERASE authorities, according to Julie Pearce, SD43′s assistant superintendent and safe school co-ordinator, and while she can’t reveal details because of privacy regulations, she noted two were made by parents and one was made by a student.
Pearce said the complaints, all made in December, were handled promptly and appropriately by the schools in much the same way they would have been if reported directly to the school. But she said she believes the anonymity of the reporting tool on the ERASE (Expect Respect, and a Safe Education) website made it easier for the individuals to make their complaints.
“It’s a place where people can feel comfortable,” Pearce said, noting as well that ERASE will be providing three days of training to SD43 staff in mid-February. Topics will include threat assessment as well as bullying, and will be for administrators and counsellors.
ERASE was launched in November by the province to encourage students to report bullying online or using a smartphone. Carol Todd, whose daughter Amanda committed suicide in October after years of online and face-to-face bullying, is giving cautious approval to the online web tool and said she hopes more people will continue to pay attention to the issue.
“I only hope that it continues to grow and that kids and parents will continue to report on bullying and cyberbullying,” Todd said. “That’s the only way that we can begin to get the message through that it’s wrong.”
The problem is far from over, though, and she said, “I still hear of kids bullying other kids and they are just sucking it up.”
Todd said she would also like to see more resources made available for parents so they are alerted to instances of bullying around them, including harassment of their own children.
Resources for parents and students are available on the ERASE bullying website (www.erasebullying.ca), which also includes a reporting function that alerts a safe school coordinator within 72 hours of a complaint. If no response is filed with ERASE, a school district superintendent is notified. The complaint can go as far as the Minister of Education if it is not dealt with at the district level.