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Ontario Strengthening Protections Against Bullying and Violence at School

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $550,000 in initiatives that will help keep kids safe in class and online. The funding will support programs that combat sex-trafficking, violence against women, bullying and cyberbullying.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 23 per cent of Ontario students reported being bullied at school and 22 per cent of Ontario students reported being bullied over the internet. And Statistics Canada found the following:

  • 95 per cent of victims of police-reported human trafficking were women and girls.
  • 22 per cent of police-reported victims of human trafficking are children under the age of 18.
  • Most of all police-reported incidents of human trafficking in Canada occur in Ontario.

The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019) highlighted that, “While Indigenous women represented only four per cent of the Canadian population in 2016, they comprised nearly 50 per cent of victims of human trafficking. Of those, nearly one-quarter were under the age of 18.”

These statistics are disturbing, and the Ontario government is acting to protect students through partnerships with community organizations. The new initiatives supported by the Ontario government investments include:

  • $150,000 – in partnership with OneChild, to empower children and youth to combat the sexual exploitation of children through prevention education, advocacy, survivor care and survivor empowerment
  • $100,000 – in partnership with White Ribbon, to develop a program or resources specifically to support boys in secondary school to counteract sexual exploitation, violence against women and the attitudes that lead to it
  • $90,800 – in partnership with Respect Group Inc., to develop resources and tools to equip educators and school staff to identify, address and respond to bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination
  • $59,950 – in partnership with the Ontario Native Education Counselling Association (ONECA), to provide an opportunity for Indigenous students to inform ministry and school boards in identifying their needs and concerns regarding bullying prevention
  • $50,000 – in partnership with PREVNet, to develop resources designed for educators of Grades 7 to 12 to enhance knowledge related to bullying, harassment and discrimination, as well as engaging peers to becomes allies
  • $50,000 – in partnership with Egale, to develop an online platform in support of 2SLGBTQI students, including access to counselling services and supporting resources to address mental health, anti-bullying and suicide prevention
  • $50,000 – in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, to develop training workshops and a virtual youth summit aimed at supporting 2SLGBTQ+ mental health.

“All students deserve to feel safe at school, and our government has zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, violence or bullying of any kind,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “That is why our government has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to serious crimes against children, harassment and bullying, and through these investments, we are protecting children of all faiths, heritage, sexual orientation and colour of skin.”

Ontario’s partnership with One Child builds on the Keeping Students Safe – Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocolswhich sets a strong foundation for school boards to establish key partnerships and regionally tailored anti-sex trafficking protocols. School boards will collaborate with community and police organizations with the goal of having protocols in place for all provincially funded schools.

These new investments are part of the Priorities and Partnerships Funding (PPF) COVID-19 Equity Supports, which funds various initiatives that help to promote a positive school climate, support healthy relationships, build empathy, and address bullying and cyberbullying.


Quick Facts

  • On November 25, 2021, the Ministry of Education announced a strengthened Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 144 – Bullying Prevention and Intervention. It provides a framework for all school boards to adopt as a directive of the ministry.
  • The government has invested through the Priorities and Partnerships Funding and the COVID-19 Equity Supports Funding streams, which fund various programs, partnerships and services that help to promote equity, promote a positive school climate, support healthy relationships, build empathy and address bullying and cyberbullying.
  • As part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, the Ontario government is directing $6.4 million to protect against discrimination in schools and to better support all students.

Quotes

“At OneChild, we know that an informed child is very difficult to traffick. With the Ministry’s investment, we will be able to teach even greater numbers of students how to keep themselves safe through youth-friendly prevention presentations and resources, while also empowering school staff and parents with curricular resources and training to prevent, recognize warning signs, intervene safely, report cases and seek trauma-informed and victim-centred support services for children.”

– Cheryl Perera
Founder and President, OneChild

“We can prevent gender-based violence by teaching boys and young men about healthy masculinities based on fairness, equity, kindness, respect, compassion and emotional intelligence. White Ribbon is proud to work together with youth, educators, parents and community leaders to help prepare new generations of young people for a violence-free, safer, gender-equitable and inclusive Ontario.”

– Humberto Carolo
Executive Director, White Ribbon

“Students can only learn when they feel safe at school. This investment by the government provides educators with practical tools that will enable them to more effectively foster inclusion, equity and healthy relationships. In safe and caring classrooms, students will be able to learn successfully.”

– Dr. Wendy M. Craig
Co-Founder and Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet

“When students fear for their safety or worry about being bullied, their learning suffers. To help ensure every classroom is free from harassment of any kind, our government is supporting additional programs to stop bullying, discrimination, violence and sexual exploitation. We are committed to fostering a healthy and supportive school environment where students are engaged.”

– Jane McKenna
Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues

“With more than 3x as many 2SLGBTQI students (30%) reporting they have been a victim of cyberbullying than non-2SLGBTQI students (8%), this funding from the Ontario Ministry of Education is more crucial than ever. Every student deserves the right to learn in a safe and inclusive environment.”

– Helen Kennedy
Executive Director, Egale Canada

“All adult school leaders, not just teachers, need tools to understand their role in keeping schools safe and free of maltreatment. We applaud the Ontario Ministry of Education for making this a priority.”

– Wayne McNeil
Co-Founder, Respect Group

“The support from the Ministry of Education to CCGSD is instrumental in our work to provide 2SLGBTQ+ students with tools to support their mental health. Through this funding, students will learn skills on peer-to-peer support that will increase their leadership capacity and will create safer school communities for all. CCGSD is grateful for the continuous support from the Ministry of Education and looks forward to future partnerships that will benefit 2SLGBTQ+ youth in Ontario.”

– Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah
Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

“We are grateful to all of the Indigenous youth who shared their experiences, stories and advice about bullying. It is our hope that the tools that we created, informed by your stories, will support schools, ministries, and communities to put an end to bullying. Miigwetch to the Ministry for supporting this project.”

– Roxane Manitowabi
Executive Director, ONECA

“I am proud that Markham-Unionville is home to organizations like One Child, who dedicate their efforts to combatting sexual exploitation of children. Through this investment of $150,000 to One Child, our government will continue to support and work alongside organizations to help keep kids safe in class and online.”

– Billy Pang
Member of Provincial Parliament for Markham-Unionville

“I am pleased that our government has committed $100,000 to the White Ribbon campaign to combat violence against women and girls. Changing the minds of young men is key to getting at the root cause of violence and fostering positive, equal relationships. The 2018 Toronto van attack remains seared into my memory and is a reminder that what the work groups like White Ribbon do to combat violence against women, is needed now more than ever.”

– Stan Cho
Member of Provincial Parliament for Willowdale

“It is important that we educate and empower children and youth to recognize and take action to prevent harassment, bullying and sexual exploitation in schools. Building on efforts underway across government, these new partnerships will help to raise awareness, support victims and survivors, and prevent recruitment into human trafficking, violence against women and all forms of bullying.”

– Sylvia Jones
Solicitor General of Ontario


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