Efforts to stop bullying require a culture change in schools and communities, Premier Christy Clark told an anti-bullying conference Tuesday.
“Kids are swimming in a culture of mean all the time and we have to address that,” she said during the Vancouver forum, organized after the suicide last month of Port Coquitlam teenager Amanda Todd. The meeting opened with a government announcement of a new website that will allow B.C. students to make anonymous reports about bullying by peers or by adults.
Their reports will trigger an alert to a safe school coordinator, who will determine the best course of action and contact the police, if necessary, the forum was told. Every school district in the province has a safe-school coordinator, and they will also be responsible for identifying trends and hot spots in schools.
Bullying can no longer be dismissed as simply a part of growing up, Clark said. “Bullying is not a rite of passage; bullying does not build character for children.”
The conference, which brought together educators, students and experts, was organized as part of the province’s Erase Bullying strategy, announced in June. Clark said it was also in response to the suicide of 15-year-old Amanda, who was sexually exploited online and then relentlessly bullied by her peers.
“We lost Amanda and it was a tragedy,” Clark told reporters. “But we should learn from that. She would want that from us.”