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Support aims to combat bullying

Ontario is strengthening its partnership with Kids Help Phone to ensure bullied children and youth have the support they need to grow and reach their full potential.

The province will continue to support Kids Help Phone, which offers confidential 24-hour counselling services over the phone and online, for another three years.

This is part of Ontario’s commitment to make children and youth feel safe and accepted, whether at school, at home, or in the community.

Last week, the province introduced the Accepting Schools Act which, if passed, will require all school boards to take preventive measures against bullying, issue tougher consequences for bullying, and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for all.

Supporting the Kids Help Phone and introducing legislation are parts of a comprehensive action plan to make our schools safer, more accepting places to learn.

The plan also calls for:

•bringing mental health support workers into schools—as part of Ontario’s 10-year mental health and addictions strategy—and continued support for Kids Help Phone;

•the creation of an Accepting Schools Expert Panel to provide advice about resources that focus on a whole school approach, including prevention and early intervention;

•direction to Ontario’s Curriculum Council to report back next year on integrating equity and bullying prevention across the curriculum;

•a public awareness campaign, which will stress that all Ontarians have a role in preventing and ending bullying; and

•creating safer, more accepting schools is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to support student success while securing a brighter future for all Ontarians.

“We have told our students who have been victims of bullying that it gets better, but the action we are taking will ensure it starts getting better now,” said Education minister Laurel Broten.

“We have the moral obligation to take action for our children, and this plan will ensure they have every opportunity to thrive and succeed,” she stressed.

“We hear from kids every day who are desperate to make bullying stop and who feel there is nowhere to turn to,” noted Sharon Wood, president and CEO of Kids Help Phone.

“Fostering hope for these kids is what the Kids Help Phone professional counsellors do every day.

“With governments, agencies and community members working together—it will get better,” Wood added.

A 2009 study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health revealed that 29 percent of Ontario students reported being bullied at school—nearly one-in-three children.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only toll-free, 24-hour, bilingual, and completely anonymous phone counselling, web counselling, and referral service for children and youth.

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