School District 83 has changed the way the distribute anti-bullying information to conform with the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jim Elliot/ Salmon Arm Observer)

School District 83 has changed the way the distribute anti-bullying information to conform with the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jim Elliot/ Salmon Arm Observer)

School District 83 sees bullying and anti-bullying change due to COVID-19

The North Okangan and Shuswap district has used a variety of online resources to tackle bullying.

Bullying in the school system has not gone away with COVID-19, so School District 83 is using new strategies to tackle the problem.

Carol-Ann Leidloff, director of instruction for inclusive education at School District 83, said bullying seems to have followed students home when classes went online in the spring and summer of 2020. Help with the issue was also extended to students.

Leidloff and other B.C. educators were given information based on the monitoring of worrisome online activity by young people. She said online evidence of behaviours like drug use and suicide ideation increased in July and August 2020 but went back down when students returned to the support structure of in-person classes in September.

According to Leidloff, the pandemic has not been kind to the most vulnerable children and families. COVID-19 and the ensuing public health orders put increased pressure on many families. Leidloff said challenges at home, particularly domestic abuse, play out in a variety of ways at school with bullying behaviours showing up among its symptoms. Leidloff also linked pressures created by the pandemic with a rise in a variety of risky and harmful behaviours such as the use of drugs and unhealthy sexual activity.

Read More: Salmon Arm business’s request for reduced 2021 licence fees denied

Read More: ‘Tornado’ touches down on Okanagan Lake

When classes did return to schools in the Shuswap it changed the way teachers covered course material but also the way anti-bullying information was presented. The lack of large school assemblies led anti-bullying information to be distributed class by class and online tools have grown in importance.

One of the online anti-bullying resources available to school staff and students is the provincial government’s ERASE campaign. ERASE is an acronym standing for expect, respect and a safe education. The campaign advises students to report if they are being bullied and to stand up for others. Also maintained by ERASE is an online reporting tool which can allow students to tell a safe-schools coordinator about bullying or other issues that are troubling them or their classmates. Reports can be filed anonymously if the student prefers.

With many in-person social and recreational activities cancelled or limited due to the pandemic, social media use has increased; Leidloff said an increase in online conflict and cyberbullying has followed. Because of this, anti-bullying efforts have included work on helping kids use social media and other online information in a healthy way.

Read More: Maple Ridge man lucky to be alive after snowmobile accident near Enderby

Read More: Lunch program begins Wednesdays in Salmon Arm for people in need

Some strategies are valuable regardless of whether the bullying takes place in person or online. Leidloff said efforts are made to help students identify the difference between bullying and conflict and also resolve conflict early before it leads to bullying. She said bullying usually has a power imbalance, the intent to hurt and is repeated over time. Conflicts are among peers with an equal power dynamic.

She said an emphasis is also placed on getting kids who are being bullied to turn to teachers, friends or other supportive adults at the school.

According to Leidloff, awareness campaigns like Pink Shirt Day are beneficial for getting people talking about bullying, but one day isn’t enough. She said efforts are made year round to create a welcoming culture that does not tolerate bullying and encourages students who are experiencing it to report it.

She added that bullying is symptomatic of a need for further mental health supports for young people. Although School District 83 has a range of programs in place for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, more can always be done to prevent bullying.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Pink Shirt Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carson Meikle prepares a hot beverage while his mother, Jenna Meikle, is busy in the background at The Night Cafe, located at 146 Lakeshore Drive. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Artistic Salmon Arm entrepreneurs branch into culinary arts with The Night Café

Adam and Jenna Meikle grateful for ongoing community support

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Friends enjoy a cool morning walk along Canoe Beach on Saturday morning, March 6, 2021. Later on in the day the beach and other city parks and playground were busy with people out enjoying the afternoon sun. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Snapshot: Cool morning walk on Canoe Beach

Friends enjoy a cool morning walk along Canoe Beach on Saturday morning,… Continue reading

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

Most Read