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School board autonomy and accountability - whose rights are we talking about?

Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

“Bullying can negatively affect a victims brain says Ottawa researcher.” Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health and Violence Prevention at the University of Ottawa. She is also a professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. Her research was published in the journal Elsevier in 2011. We all know that being at the receiving end of stalking, harassment and assault can have immediate negative responses by anyone. Dr. Vaillancourt’s research suggests prolonged torment and abuse could severely affect a child’s development. Could it be for this reason that our young are becoming depressed with suicidal thoughts and clinical diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It all has to do with the hormone we all produce called cortisol. When we are severely stressed out, like children who are bullied, we overproduce this hormone. The end result is that this has a negative structural affect on our brains. This is of great concern in children as they develop emotionally and socially. On December 11, 2012, Global Edmonton reported that bullying is linked to lower performance in 4th grade reading. The findings of this report can be found in The PIRLS Canada in Context report which states that students bullied the most tend to have lower performances. “Students who are struggling more in school are probably less comfortable, and are probably more subject to those kinds of unpleasant circumstances,” ...... “And equally, being subject to those would further depress achievement.” Does this make struggling students an “evocative victim”? I have a child whose torment lasted for three school years - grades 8, 9 and 10. He was academically successful, and then his learning became extremely depressed. To corroborate Dr. Vaillancourt’s research, as a result of his three years of torment he was diagnosed with PTSD, and became suicidal. He started college at the age of 20 and did not handle the stress of that very well in his first year. Very interesting findings, but is anyone listening? There is an over abundance of expert reports that provide us with all kinds of information. Our school boards are just as privy to this information as you or I are, yet children are still taking their lives. So I need to ask....when bullying gets out of hand at the school level, what degree of responsibility is placed on the school system? In the USA, “Alabama and Georgia are urging the federal court to rule that school districts not be held financially liable for harassment in a student’s disability if school officials took appropriate steps to stop it.” Who determines what appropriate steps are? If it is reported to the school, and the aggression is taking place at the school level, and it doesn’t stop regardless of the steps taken while our children are in their care, then some onus must be placed on the system. It can’t abscond itself of 100% responsibility when we place our children in the duty of their care. That question now leads me to the Town of Hanna in the Province of Alberta and their recently implemented bully by-law. RCMP approached the town as they were frustrated with how prevalent bullying was in their community. They also expressed the frustrations of parents, and were concerned about situations escalating to the point of criminal offenses. While some may believe this kind of by-law to be draconian in nature, the main reason for the request came as a result of the gray areas at the school level when dealing with bullying. Nothing else is working at the community, provincial and federal levels.  Now enter Ontario with Bill 115.  I am so sick of hearing about the government's "misuse of power" and about teacher's constitutional rights in Ontario. This is nothing more than a fight for control and power between the government and the unions, and who pays for this? Students, their parents and teachers. News flash ..... we all have constitutional rights. It seems, though, the parents' voice is completely obsolete. Parents don't form part of the equation. We just get stripped of our hard earned tax dollars, and left to our own devices to figure things out. It won't be long before we give birth to our children and then just hand them over to the state. We live in a democracy you say (the will of the majority)....I would be very afraid.


Comments

Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

Thanks for your activism on behalf of children who are abused by bullying.

Try to imagine that working people (including teachers) don't like being bullied by being deprived of their fundamental rights as human beings and threatened with fines and dismissal if they don't show up for work in accordance with terms and conditions that they have never approved.

As for being stripped of your hard-earned tax dollars, and handing children over to the state - I guess a little exaggeration never hurt anyone's cause.

As for the RCMP and the city parents of Hanna, Alberta, I don't think I'll be moving there any time soon. Can't afford the fines.

 


Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

What percentage of the working population has the support of a union.  I don't know - that's why I am asking.  Are teachers being bullied by the government - absolutely.  I reiterate - it's a struggle for power and control, and when we speak about rights, I don't feel it shouldn't just be about teacher's rights.  I understand that there are professions where there is no choice but to belong to a union if one wants to work within that profession.  I for one am acquainted with many teachers who have nothing good to say about their unions, they feel trapped, but they had a choice .... don't become a teacher.  We all have a choice when it comes to deciding what we will do on a professional level.  I hold the teaching profession in the highest regard.....I couldn't do it.  The teachers who only want to teach are being bullied.  This isn't just about missuse of government power.  Will there be loss of income, a feeling of helplessness, stress, etc.  Will it be to the same degree that I felt when my child became suicidal because the adults in control at school couldn't keep him safe for three years?  My son's fundamental right to a safe and inclussive education was stripped from him.  We had no negotiating or bargaining benefit.  We were given our options by the board, and if we didn't like them....well we knew where we could go.  The educational system is constructed in such a way that parents are not able to approve who their child's teachers are going to be.  So when it comes to rights.....parents and students have none, not when it comes to cirriculum, not where it comes to safety and not when it comes to over powering control of big box business.  I don't agree with Bill 115 - not in the slightest, but parents and students....they are being trivialized by this whole process and it has turned into whose rights outweigh the next persons'.  As far as Hanna, Alberta.  These steps were taken by the RCMP because of the lack of accountability at the school level.  It's simple - walk around town with some morals and you won't have to pay the big fines.  I am not catagorizing teachers - I am however, displaying my disgust with the democratic process being demonstrated in the province of Ontario.  All of this has had me reviewing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.....all very interesting.  I am new at this in this forum - I welcome freedom of speech and difference of opinion.  Please let me know if I come across as adversarial as I don't wish to.


Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

Karen - welcome to babble! And sorry for my pointed remarks. I too welcome freedom of speech and difference of opinion. Mutual respect for each other's causes is I think also essential for building unity. I hope you stick around so we can learn from each other.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Hi Karen, welcome to babble. Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts on this issue. I'm not sure you'll find much sympathy on this board for a financially punitive model of bullying prevention -- we leftists tend to prefer collaborative remedies which address the root causes of bullying.

It looks like we don't actually have a thread open about the Ontario Teachers' current struggle. Can that be true?


onlinediscountanvils
Online
Joined: Jun 7 2012

Catchfire wrote:
It looks like we don't actually have a thread open about the Ontario Teachers' current struggle. Can that be true?

I started this thread a few days ago when I couldn't find any open relevant threads.


Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

Thank you Unionist and Catchfire - yes - mutual respect is paramount, specially if in disagreement.  And agreeing to disagree is how we open our minds to different perspectives.  My sister let me know about this forum.  I'm still trying to figure out the manouevering process though.  I haven't seen any threads on the issue either, which tells me you might be situate in the United States.  I too believe in collaborate remedies, which is why I now work with my school board and the Ministry of Education on prevention and intervention.  Will it work....well I have my own thoughts on that one, but I never close the door and I do not hold grudges.  Never apologize for pointed remarks....keep shooting straight from the hip.  Catchfire....what do you mean by "leftist"....exactly?  I note I had a few reviews and hope someone else will post a response.  P.S......am I the only one who is using a real name?


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

I would imagine that the RCMP will test it out on the first person to scream SCAB at a low life stealing  their job.  I find this by law an outrageous extension of the polices role in relation to citizens.   Given the number of small towns in Alberta dominated by born again Xians I guess we can expect a no blasphemy or swearing by law sometime soon.

Good policing would have had this small town peace officer talking to the kids and their parents about the inappropriate behaviour not petitioning the counsel to make it a ticketing offense. The outcomes would likely be better if this authority figure had opened up a community dialogue about the problem instead trying to fine kids.  The story to me is, Lazy Cop Seeks Easy Route to Keeping the Peace in a Small town.


Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

It is my understanding that the RCMP will be using their discretion.  I was told that RCMP are continuously speaking to parents, parents who are in denial, and a school board that doesn't seem to be able to get things under control.  Talking hasn't worked, and the intent of this by-law is to keep this aggressive behaviour from escalating to extreme criminal behaviour - thereby saving some young butts from jail time, a criminal record, and a downward spiralling future.  Let's call it what it is.  Bullying is just a catch phrase for stalking, assault and harassment.  If it were taking place in an adult workplace, it would be over before it escalates.  After all - everything is about money.....is it not?  I don't think a ticket has been issued yet, but I will be following up with council on that one, and to find out if the recent by-law has curbed the negative behaviour amongst youth in Hanna.  I did say it was draconian in nature, and I did NOT say that I agreed with such measures.  However, can anyone else site what IS working while we are waiting to hear about the next suicide of a young person due to adult failure.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Giving RCMP in small towns discretion over who to hand out fines too for behaviour that is very hard to pin point is something that I think is not a good thing.  The police have a job to do but throwing this into the mix of teenagers and cops is IMO a bad, bad idea. Is the cop going to hand out tickets based on hearsay evidence of other teenagers because he is not likely to hear or see much of that kind of behavior after the first tickets are handed out.  Teenagers adapt quite easy to things like that and will do the bullying in the shadows. 

Bullying needs to be addressed by parents and school teachers and administrators.  The parents in school districts should be driving the process and they can if they organize around the issue.  Teachers are the parents allies and should be treated like that. 

Your posts read as very disrespectful of the teachers democratic organizations.  If you work under a collective agreement you get the right to vote in the people that you want to represent you, you get the duty to support the organization that makes the collective agreement possible and finally you get the right to convince your coworkers that the union is a waste of time and money.  Any of your friends who have been forced to join a union can chose the last option and then they ONLY have to convince a majority of their coworkers.  It seems like a fair system to me. I will note that there doesn't seem to be any major push by teachers to decertify so your anecdotal evidence sounds like gripping by whiners who probably also complain about paying taxes.


Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

I am not trying to disrespect anyone.  I am trying to co-exist in a society where everyone should be treated equally, and since when is passing on information that I have been provided with disrespectful.  I said that it was draconian in nature, and I reinforced that I never agreed with this course of action.  You speak of the teachers democratic organizations.  What about the organizations of parents, and their rights to expect that their child receive a safe education.  Let me ask you.  Have you ever worked in the utmost professional manner with your school board administrators to effect a plan to keep your child safe at school?  Have you ever watched your child's soul drift away because of the failure of adults you put your child in the care of while trying to receive an education, because of their "we know what's best for your child attitude".  I voted in my school board trustee who told me to trust my school board to do the right thing.  What they did is faill my child on every level.  This is not about unions, and I also said that I am not catogorizing teachers, but there are three teachers that did absolutely nothing to support my child.  The very people I told him to approach for help, so don't talk to me about unions.  Talk to me about morals and obligations and duty of care.  Just because some one is a teacher does not abscond them from doing the right thing when it comes to any one of their students.  I have some very close friendships with teachers who are absolutely disgusted with the chain of command and what takes place within....but they have a living to earn.  News flash - bullying does not just need to be addressed by parents, teachers and school administrators.  It is a community and socielle issue.  As far as how the COPS are going to hand out tickets...do what I did....satisfy yourself....call Hanna town council.  All I did here was pass on the information I was provided with.  While you're at it...contact the World Health Organization.  They will tell you where the problem lies.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Fidel why are your posts putting the formatting out of wack?  Can you fix it?


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Bullying is a real problem and one I understand to a certqin extent.  I moved many times in elementary school so I got to meet more than my fair share of bullies.  I learnt after he graduated that my son had been bullied when he was in grade 3 and 4.  I thought I had talked to him about all those things but he still didn't open up.

Where I live various people are working on the bullying problem and they span the political spectrum.  Here is a little press release story about an event in my town from October. I think things need to be done I just think some things are counter productive.

Quote:

The free workshop features Deborah MacNamara, a counsellor and educator with Vancouver's Neufeld Institute, which runs courses for adults who work with children. The institute focuses on an "attachment-based developmental model" created by psychologist Gordon Neufeld, and the Burnaby workshop aims to address the root causes of bullying.

"Bullying is an age-old problem with a new face in today's increasingly digital world," MacNamara wrote in an email to the NOW. "Cyber bullies are now replacing playground bullies at an alarming rate, and the need to protect our kids is great."

The workshop is on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpha Secondary, 4600 Parker St.

Event organizer Helen Ward, president of Kids First Parents Association of Canada, hopes the event will help adults rebuild "the damaged relationships driving both bullying and self-harm that can tragically result."

"This requires going deeper than photo-op events, or legalistic reactions to bullying like codes of conduct and zero tolerance. We need (government policy changes) that prioritize parent-child attachment," Ward said in a press release.

http://www.burnabynow.com/news/Anti+bullying+workshop+city/7415233/story...

 

As well even when teachers support anti bullying programs aimed specifically at homophobia some parents think they have the right to threaten and bully.  I use this as an illustration that a few bad parents does not change the fact that there are a lot of good parents like yourself.  Just because you ran into bad teachers does not say anything about other teachers or their union.

Quote:

A Burnaby teacher and a school board official received similar written death threats in connection with the anti-homophobia policy the board passed in June.

James Sanyshyn, vice-president of the Burnaby Teachers' Association, says the letter to the teacher, who he declined to name for safety reasons, was sent in an envelope "directly to that person's workplace with their name on it."

"You want to destroy our children! You are our enemy! You will be shot," the letter states, accompanied by an illustration of knives dripping with blood.

He says the teacher received the letter in June during the final stages of debate over Policy 5.45, which saw several vocal rallies that pitted parents opposed to the policy against queer students and their allies.

"Another exact copy was sent to a school board official who does not wish to come forward at this time," Sanyshyn adds.

"We became aware that two letters were sent, one to the individual that Mr Sanyshyn spoke about and one to one of the school board officials," district superintendent Claudio Morelli confirms.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Burnaby_teacher_and_school_official_...


jjuares
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Joined: Jan 21 2012

Bullying is a huge issue. Unfortunately, the term is now being so overused that it is on the verge of losing its meaning. Negative interactions between people have to be targetted and ongoing as well as demonstrating a power differential before it rises to the standard of bullying.  We need to be careful when using this term to describe negative interactions between people.


ryanw
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Joined: May 24 2012

negative interaction seems very sterile


Karen Sebben
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Joined: Jan 11 2013

I never experienced bullying, so when my child said "you don't understand how it feels"...he's right.  What constitutes negative behaviour and how is it learned?  I don't know the answer to that either.  I feel that I taught my kids empathy and acceptance over differences.  They both have close relationships with people from different backgrounds etc.  I believe this to be a community issue, Not just one for parents, or teachers, but all involved where children live.  We don't have to like each other, but to co-exist we should respect differences....a rule I live by and passed along to my own.  This issue should be treated with the same vigour as drunk driving and recyling.  Sadly it is not. I think anyone whose family has been impacted by this issue is reaching out for straws...political or otherwise.  I have no answers, but I am certainly open to suggestions.  I did say that I don't catorgize teachers.  We all come across a few bad apples along the way.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

I remember being a grade 8 student and intervening in a bullying incident involving two other students. I struck the bully several times in the middle of his bullying the other boy, and suddenly I found myself to the focus of attention of school officials. I continued intervening for about a year as the bullying decreased in frequency and tended to occur when he thought no one else was around to observe. But I'd made a deal with the victim to report any and all bullying to me, and I somewhat enjoyed confronting the bully whether there had been an incident or not. I think the bully felt he had become the victim and began whining to teachers. I was then looking good for being a bully myself according to some of the teachers and even the principal looking at me sideways. I really didn't like the bully or his opinion of low income families, FN's etc.

Eventually something was said to one of the parents of the bully during an evening of parent-teacher interviews. My mother and another parent ganged-up on the bully's parent with the school principal present. The bullying pretty much ceased after that but only after my mother and the victim's mother were very vocal and mentioned possible legal action and calling the police.


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