There are some in the mainstream media who are hailing Ontario’s Bill 13, The Accepting Schools Act, as a step in the right direction regarding bullying, such as this CBC story and this Globe and Mail column. In fact, there is apparently similar legislation being enacted all over the developed world.
My question to all those who are hailing such legislation is: Exactly how can such legislation actually stop bullying?
I mean, how would an anti-bullying law actually help a teacher or school principal deal with a youth who is alleged to have bullied someone? Specifically? Or, perhaps even more importantly, how would such a law get kids to intervene when they see a bullying incident in progress?
Well, actually, it seems to me, that such a law, won’t help anyone or change anything. For example, there is a quote from the CBC link:
“The Toronto District School Board, the largest in Canada, says it will spend the summer developing board-wide guidelines in time for the act’s implementation in the fall. But it says that it will be up to its nearly 600 schools to decide how they specifically adopt and address these strategies.” (My highlighting.)
I will repeat what I highlighted: “…it will be up to nearly 600 [TDSB] schools to decide…” In other words, after all is said and done, no matter how well-intentioned Bill 13 may have been, nothing concrete is going to change in the TDSB or, in fact, in any other Ontario school board.
So perhaps, if the politicians or school board administrators can’t actually do anything specific to stop bullying, maybe they should look to what techniques or strategies have actually worked. As it turns out, every successful approach have all involved young people themselves!!!
First, there was the “Wear a Pink Shirt Day” phenomenon which got started when high school students David Shepherd and Tarvis Price observed a new student being mercilessly bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Disgusted, they went to a dollar store and bought fifty pink T-shirts — which they passed around to 48 of their friends. Then, all fifty showed up at school the next day wearing a pink shirt — essentially shaming the bullies by supporting the victim — and the Pink Shirt campaign took off from there.
Or, what about exposing kids of all ages to Rachel Scott’s Challenge, who wrote just before her death at Columbine:
“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Rachel’s Challenge is apparently a very powerful approach that encourages students to feel good about themselves, as well as to be able to look for the best in everyone. Specifically, it is teaches kids why and how to stop and intervene when a bullying incident is taking place.
Meaning, that to stop bullying, actions speaks louder than words.
So, how can anti-bullying laws, that are nothing more than static words put into place by politicians who want their communities to think they are actually doing something, be a step in the right direction? In other words, how can anti-bullying legislation actually bring concrete results and changed behaviour?
For more information on Wear A Pink Shirt Day, which will be on February 27, 2013 and Rachel’s Challenge, see the anti-bullying page on my Header Bar.