Yesterday I attended the annual anti-bullying conference in Toronto sponsored by PREVnet. The theme of this years’ conference was “creating healthy relationships to prevent bullying: get the tools to take action”. This years’ conference was the sixth annual anti-bullying conference put on by PREVnet. Dr. Wendy Craig (Queen’s University) and Dr. Deborah Pepler (York University) offered the welcoming address followed by a performance of “You You Have the Power” by Disney performer Jasmine Richards. Her performance included an excellent video to support the lyrics of the song.
The keynote address was called “Sex, Gender and Schools Oh My!” Presented by Ken Jeffers, co-ordinator, gender-based violence prevention, Toronto District School Board.
Ken Jeffers talked about changing school climates using rules and consequences to change individual actions. He talked about the umbrella of oppression which includes sexism and homophobia. One of Ken Jeffers points was that gender and biological sex is often assumed to be the same, even though this is sometimes far from the truth. He talked about Bill 13 and the media frenzy which has gone along with it as well as Bill 157, the education amendment act from 2009. What do you Ken concluded his presentation with the statement that “the number one key to success is our students”.
Wits stands for :
Talk It Out
These four pieces of advice are recommended for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
Children in grades 4-8 are encouraged to solve problems by using the LEADS acronym:
Look and Listen
Explore Points of View
Did It Work?
Dr. Shelley Hymel, from the university of British Columbia spoke about Social and Emotional Learning in Schools. Traditionally, schools have focused on cognitive development and academic achievement yet recent students are indicating that social and emotional growth have a more important role than previously believed.
Her talk was detailed and informative and we learned specific ways to nurture Social Emotional Learning (SEL) such as using books as discussion starters and encouraging cooperative learning in the classroom.
Dr. Hymel also pointed out that punitive discipline is often much less effective than restorative discipline. She told us about an excellent system of discipline called Restitution Self-Discipline, developed by Diane Gossen of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I will definitely be checking out Diane’s material.
Justin W. Patchin, PH. D. from the University of Wisconsin’s Cyberbullying Research Center was also an excellent speaker I had the opportunity to hear.
His presentation covered how young people use and misuse technology to sometimes cause harm to their peers. He discussed the role of teens and adults in preventing and responding to inappropriate online behaviours as well as strategies to use to make sure technology is used safely and responsibly. He talked about Toronto area student, David Knight and how difficult it was for his family to have an inappropriate website taken down. Dr. Patchin told us that lack of supervision of youth on-line causes many problems, as well as parents allowing children to have internet enabled computers in their bedrooms.
He said many schools treat cell phones like underwear: we know it’s there, but we just don’t want to see it.
Dr. Patchin’s talk was informative, easy to follow and included a large amount of up-to-date information about young people use of the internet and cell phones.
The 2012 PREVnet conference was once again an excellent opportunity to learn about recent research which has taken place on the topic of bullying prevention.
Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate from Ontario, Canada.