Pink shirt day is coming up on February 22 and schools across RVS will each celebrate in their own way.

While incidents of bullying are not necessarily on the rise, RVS continues to educate students, teachers, administrators, and parents on the different types of conflict youth can find themselves in.

Chris Pawluk, Lead Psychologist, says while they will support any student in distress the first step is to determine if it is bullying.

"Is it unwanted aggressive behaviour, is there a power imbalance, is it repeated or does it have the potential of being repeated over time? If it is yes to all those things, we would consider that bullying."

When it comes to reducing bullying, Pawluk, says everyone needs to understand their responsibility. Students need to have a high standard of behaviour, not engage in bullying, intervene if need be, and report incidences when appropriate, Staff are asked to teach a preventive model by building self esteem, self respect, courtesy for others, and obviously handling themselves in a professional manner. For parents if they see signs of distress or changes in behaviour around a bullying incident, they should discuss with the teacher or administrator.

Pawluk says a lot of time younger children may refer to being bullied, just due to lack of language descriptors and it is important for them to learn the difference. "We want to teach them, what's rude, what's conflict, what's bullying."

When it comes to after school hours or school bus issues, Pawluk says if the issue affects school in any way, the school is required to act on it.

"The Minister a few years ago changed the policy to say if it happens anywhere and it impacts the functioning of the school, then you (the school) have a mandate to deal with it."

If you are concerned about bullying, Pawluk always suggests talking with your child's teacher as your first point of contact and then following up with the administrator.

"For us it's not just about wearing a pink shirt on one day, it's an ongoing conversation on how we build self esteem, respect, and empathy in students and how we model that as staff members and modelling that in a wider society."

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