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School district dealing with bullies on case-by-case basis

Suzanne Hoffman - submitted photo
Suzanne Hoffman
— image credit: submitted photo

There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to deal with bullies, said Langley School District Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman on Tuesday night.

Hoffman addressed the issue of bullying in schools at the Langley Board of Education meeting because the “passing of Amanda Todd is so much on all of our minds,” she said.

“We do have bullying in Langley schools. What has changed is the nature of the bullying. We saw bullying on our playgrounds, in our hallways.

“Now it is cyberbullying,” said Hoffman.

She said the district has chosen not to take a zero tolerance approach to bullying but rather an age appropriate response and is case-by-case because each situation is unique, she said.

Hoffman recognized that some students are repeat offenders and for parents it can be a frustrating experience because the school district can’t discuss consequences it imposes on a bully because of privacy issues.

Hoffman said reacting and dealing with bullying happens at the teaching level, not through district management.

But the district has focused a lot of its efforts on creating awareness and education around bullying, including made-in Langley anti-harrassment curriculum for Grades 8 through 10. New teachers to the district received their training on Wednesday.

Langley has also had a Restorative Action program going for many years. The program trains students to become mediators in bullying situtions.

But for it to work,  both the victim and bully have to want to participate in a mediation of sorts that sees parents, those teens involved and teachers talk about conflict resolution.

Hoffman believes bystanders have the biggest role to play in stopping bullying. Trustee Rod Ross jokingly remarked that the district should develop a new program for parents of bullies to attend.

“One parent came to me saying she delivered her child to the Langley School District and three years later she got back a damaged child (from the impact of bullying),” Ross pointed out. “What is one thing we can do to improve?” he asked.

Hoffman replied that if anything, the district needs funding for more resources for students.

She encouraged parents and students to check out the plethora of resources linked on the district website sd35.bc.ca.

Walnut Grove Secondary’s Power To Stay Away club that promotes the way to stop bullying was featured on Breakfast Television recently for their positive work to make a difference by standing up and making a difference.

Cyberbullying workshop for parents

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, teacher, computer and cyberbully expert Sandra Averill will speak to Langley parents about online respect and responsibility and teaching children how to be positive digital citizens.

The program is open to all parents.

Presentation begins at 7 p.m. Wix Brown Elementary School is located at 23851 24 Ave. Or call 604-534-5633.

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