Anti-bullying panel outlines scope of its review in Rehtaeh Parsons case -

Anti-bullying panel outlines scope of its review in Rehtaeh Parsons case


HALIFAX – A review of the Halifax school board’s handling of the Rehtaeh Parsons case could lead to revised anti-bullying guidelines to help schools prevent a similar tragedy, a panellist said Monday.

“We’re really hoping to move forward and look at how we could prevent something like this from ever happening again,” said Debra Pepler, a professor at York University in Toronto.

“We hope we’ll be able to provide some guidelines so students who struggle are supported and recognized in a different way.”

Pepler and Penny Milton, the former CEO of the Canadian Education Association, were appointed by the Nova Scotia government to look into the Parsons case.

The pair presented an interim report Monday on the scope of their review. It lays out 10 questions they want to answer on anti-bullying programs following the teenager’s death.

The report says the panellists will focus on whether existing policies, procedures and training on cyberbullying in Halifax schools are adequate.

Pepler and Milton will also look at support services provided by schools, the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, the Capital District Health Authority and the police for people who are bullied.

Parsons committed suicide in April. The 17-year-old girl’s family alleges she was sexually assaulted in 2011 and a digital photo of the incident was shared around her school.

Both panellists said they will leave fact finding to the police, who are still investigating the case.

They also said the final report will not specifically identify who spoke to the panel or assign blame.

“To support openness and frank discussions, all participants have been assured that all conversations will be confidential,” Pepler and Milton wrote in their interim report.

“We have been asked whether we will name names or assign blame. We will not.”

The panel will look at the co-ordination of services for people who are bullied and determine what level of understanding school staff have of those services.

Milton said she will speak to the principals of the schools Parsons attended, the superintendents of school boards, a group of student council representatives and a group of high school teachers.

She said some of the teachers interviewed had taught Parsons directly, while others were chosen because they will participate in forming anti-bullying policies.

School board chairman Gin Yee said he is open to policy changes.

“If there was an issue that we can learn from the Parsons case, I’m personally open to making some changes,” he said.

“If there were mistakes made, we’ll learn from them.”

The report says Parsons’ parents will be invited to speak to the panellists.

Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, said in an email that the family is “cautiously optimistic” about the review.

However, she said she is waiting to see the final outcomes the review produces.

Pepler and Milton plan to deliver their final report on June 14.

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Anti-bullying panel outlines scope of its review in Rehtaeh Parsons case

  1. Re-writing policy, changing guidelines, defining terms may be great positive psychology but it will do nothing to protect the next 400 children who will kill themselves in 2013 because of Bullying. Public relations will do nothing but make officials feel good about themselves. Public Relations of this nature will make it appear as if they are doing something right and make the Millionaires club who dominate school boards .(Directors of school boards superintends and school principals of super schools who get paid $200,000 plus per year.) pretend to do their jobs. It will not stop harm being done, it will not make one single person accountable. NOT ONE. Enforce our laws and the death rate will drop…. Get the abusers out of the system and children will be free from terrible role models and horrible conditions. The criminal record system is broke. The school system is broke. The right of victims to be treated fairly is broke. The rights of criminals who have thrown dog dirt such as a school principal in Toronto has her rights but what about the child with dog feces thrown at him/her. Or how about the kids who were turned upside down and shaken by their teacher. What about their rights? A young man, Corey Anthony Foster in New York State while playing basketball at school during school hours was held down by three school officials with a collective weight of over 600 pounds, he died. Is their something wrong? I think so… we can expect the same in Canada for one reason and only one reason. We allow abuse with no accountability! Mr. Prime Minister, enforce the Criminal Code of Canada ! For the love children enforce the Law NOW!

  2. While I too am cautiously optimistic, and while I have the utmost respect for Dr. Pepler, policies are just guidelines, and without oversight feel that nothing will change. Policy in the past for hundreds of families have done little to keep their children safe at school. What makes me think that recommendations for the purpose of enhancing policy will create effective change. If policy does not speak to accountability on the part of adults to whom entrust our children to, then it’s worthless. Without oversight on how policy is implemented, then it’s worthless.

  3. While I agree that laws ought to be enforced – where they act in the public interest and in the interests of children, I take issue with Mr. Black who has written in comments here that the “millionaire club” dominates school boards across Canada. I think such a ridiculous statement undermines the gravity of the credible argument he brings to the issue. It is just offensive to the hundreds of concerned and active parents and community leaders, school principals, teachers and superintendents who do far more than “pretend” to do their jobs. Such a passionate concern would be more effective if also not accompanied by another form of adult bullying, albeit perhaps not intentionally.

    Perhaps even more important will be to be engaged and activated by the review of the Halifax school boards response to bullying as well as more militant about enforcing rules already on the books to combat this horrific situation.

    • I disagree with Mr. Black as well. It should not be called a “millionaires club” it should be called a “Billionaires Club.” In Ontario over 2 billion dollars is spent on Child Services with over 600 suspicious deaths over the last five years. The Ontario Legislature is considering a Bill that may finally allow the Ombudsman into social services. Don’t hold your breath, you may pass out waiting. Very troubling are Schools in Ontario that are notorious as well for allowing repeat sex offenders teach in our schools. Thanks to the research of the Toronto Star we now know some of the names of people who have had sex with children or even written “porn” while holding positions of authority. The most notorious is Jacque Tremblay who wrote “Sexteen” while he was making judgments on the College of Teachers. So where were all these fair and just minded over paid administrators doing while all this was going on? Literally, Collecting billions of dollars! We will never have accountability in Canada if we don’t hold people accountable.