Dare to Care, a Calgary anti-bullying program, has been knocking on the Alberta Legislature’s door in the hopes of getting a new law passed on the issue of school-yard bullying.
“I’ve written several letters to Alberta’s minister of education (Jeff Johnson) but the response hasn’t been encouraging,” said Lisa Dixon-Wells, founder of Dare to Care, “they keep telling me that they’re doing what they can.”
Bill 56, an act to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools, recently passed in the Quebec Legislature on June 12 and has been made law.
This legislation was originally introduced on Feb. 12 and has been hailed as the key to stamping out bullying, in all its forms, in la belle province.
According to a Quebec government website, Bill 56 was designed to, “include prevention measures to put an end to all forms of bullying and violence based, among other things, on racism, sexual orientation, sexual identity, homophobia, a disability or a physical characteristic.”
Communications director for Alberta’s Advanced Education and Technology, Kim Capstick said, “We don’t have a stand-alone bill for anti-bullying like Quebec has.”
“Anti-bullying was included in Bill 2 of Alberta’s Education Act which we introduced just before the last election, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite get done before then,” she said.
Capstick said that now that the election is over this bill will be re-introduced in Alberta’s Legislature, “in the near future.”
Recently, news of a young BC girl, Amanda Todd, committed suicide on Oct. 10 after she posted a heartbreaking video on YouTube.com about being bullied by her classmates.
She has received world-wide attention regarding her tragic situation and a Facebook page has been created in her memory.
In response to this recent situation, Johnson has promised, “to create the strongest anti-bullying legislation in the country.”
Dare to Care is a privately funded program that has been trotting around the city and the country in search of schools in need of its guidance and bullying prevention tactics.
“This is not a one-shot thing,” said Dixon-Wells.
“We offer our services to schools across Canada to help create a better learning atmosphere for their kids, and to prevent bullying from the top down.”
The group has even caught the attention of W. Brett Wilson, the successful Calgary businessman and philanthropist who has appeared regularly on the CBC television program, Dragon’s Den.
“W. Brett Wilson is a big supporter of Dare to Care,” said Dixon-Wells.
“Every June he hosts a garden party fund-raiser in his backyard, and last year that fund-raiser was held for Dare to Care.”
Dare to Care recently had a parent/teacher session on Sept. 27 at West Springs School in Calgary where they held an information session that empowered school authorities to end this age-old problem.
“We always have a great turnout of concerned parents,” she said.
“We not only give kids the skill-set, the tools and the education to stand up to bullies but we also work with the parents.”
“It’s the only comprehensive program of its kind in Canada.”
She said that the key to bullying prevention is to seek out the so-called silent majority and empower them to take action.
“Our key to bullying prevention is to tap into the 80 per cent of kids in the schools who see bullying happen on a daily basis but don’t know what to do, or how to help. They’re afraid that they will make the situation worse or that the bully will turn on them.”
Dixon-Wells’ strategy is to equip each student in any given school with specific verbal tools and psychological mindsets to enable them to take positive action when they see bullying occur.
“With education and common language through the use of role-playing, each child is given positive reinforcement.We hit them with all the tools we have and then we mobilize the staff and the parents, to deal with the problem instead of just shunning it like in the past.”
For more information on the Dare to Care seminars, visit their official website.