Hope students lead anti-bullying project

Results from new questionnaire will form foundation of district-wide lesson plan

A new student-driven initiative in Hope is targeting a growing problem in the school district.

Erin Wilkins’ Social Justice 12 class at Hope Secondary has partnered with Hope Community Services on an anti-cyber bullying project.

“We jumped on board because it fits well with our curriculum – seeing an injustice and trying to fix it,” said Wilkins. “My students are motivated to try and create change and are hoping that if they lead, others will follow.”

A bullying survey has been handed out to Grade 7-10 students throughout the district over the last few weeks in an effort to understand more about what is going on in individual schools. The questionnaire is grouped into five sections: offender, victimization, bystander, physical/verbal bullying, and cyber bullying. Even though the survey is anonymous, students are asked to include their gender, age and grade with their answers.

Wilkins’ students have until March to draft some kind of lesson plan based on the questionnaire results, which will then be implemented at each targeted grade level throughout the district by the Social Justice 12 class.

“What we’ve found is that kids listen to kids. If we can get senior students to teach younger students, maybe we’ll have a better response and they’ll be more receptive,” said Wilkins. “The reason we’re targeting cyber bullying is it seems to be the way to keep adults out of the loop. This might get the lines of communication open, especially between parents and students. We’re hoping with this information, we’ll also be able to train kids in the world of technology.”

Last year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development decided that some of the regular mental health programming funding for Hope Community Services would be used to develop an anti-bullying project for the entire school district in 2012. Partnering with the Social Justice 12 class allowed them to develop appropriate survey questions that youth would relate to.

“We want to develop a series of resources with information that is stated in such a way that youth will listen to it and practice it when needed,” said Maclynne Bourquin, Hope Community Services executive director. “We also want to increase the number of youth that do not sit on the sidelines when others are being bullied and provide youth with skills/resources when they experience bullying, or when assisting their friends who are being bullied.”