News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 18, 2013

NEW SAFETY INITIATIVES WILL HELP KEEP STUDENTS SAFE: MINISTER


Province Kicks Off Bullying Awareness Week with New Tools to Prevent Bullying

The Manitoba government is introducing new tools for students, educators and parents to help keep schools safe and caring, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced today.

“The Manitoba government is committed to supporting school communities in providing safe learning environments for all children and youth,” said the minister.  “These new tools offer educators, parents and students real solutions to address the serious issue of bullying in schools.” 

Bilingual posters informing students about Kids Help Phone’s free counselling, referral and information services will be distributed to all middle and senior years schools.  Nancy Allan, legislative assistant for Safe Schools, who as the former education minister was instrumental in ushering in Bill 18, the province’s anti-bullying legislation, was on hand to discuss the resources and meet with staff and students at Collège Churchill in Winnipeg.

“These resources help students who have been targets of bullying behaviour know they are not alone and help is available,” said Allan.  “Students can’t learn when they feel marginalized, humiliated or intimidated, and all students deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential in safe, inclusive learning environments.”

Kids Help Phone is an anonymous and confidential phone and online professional counselling service for youth that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Kids can call with questions and concerns about issues such as sexuality, body image, dating and relationships, mental health, online safety and bullying.

“Kids Help Phone is thrilled to partner with Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning on a project that will help ensure young people throughout Manitoba know how to access Kids Help Phone’s essential services,” said Holly Klos, Winnipeg manager, Kids Help Phone.  “Through phone, online and live chat counselling services, as well as information and referrals, our professional counsellors are helping youth aged five to 20 about any issue imaginable.  From bullying to relationships and issues relating to mental health and well-being, kids and teens can access help and information 24/7/365 that is free of charge and free of judgment.”

Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning collaborated with Kids Help Phone to develop the posters, which are also available for download at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/safe_schools/index.html

The minister also announced a new regulation requiring schools to conduct at least one lockdown drill each term or semester, in addition to the 10 fire drills already required annually.  Although serious violent incidents in schools are rare, lockdown drills are another tool schools can use to ensure staff and students know what to do and are prepared to act quickly.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and practice drills educate everyone in the school so they know what to do if an incident does occur,” the minister said.

During lockdown, all individuals inside the school must proceed to and remain in secure rooms within the school and all individuals outside the school must proceed to a designated evacuation staging area.  In addition, a review of school emergency response plans, which outline the role of the principal, staff, and counselling and crisis-intervention personnel in the event of an emergency, must be completed every year.

This year, Bill 18, the Public Schools Amendment Act (Safe and Inclusive Schools), was officially proclaimed into law.  Under Bill 18, schools in Manitoba are required to:

  • report and act on cyberbullying incidents that take place outside of school or after hours if a student or the school environment has been negatively affected;
  • expand policies related to the appropriate use of the Internet in schools to include social media, text messaging and instant messaging;
  • accommodate students who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that fight all forms of bullying, and accommodate any student-led groups that promote a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all students including groups that want to use the name gay/straight alliance; and
  • establish respect for human diversity policies that are consistent with the principles of the Manitoba Human Rights Code and create a safe and inclusive learning environment that is accepting of all students.

“We are going to continue to take action, to work with other jurisdictions and update our laws to continue to fight bullying and cyberbullying head on,” said the minister.

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