Parents concerned about bullying in the Sea to Sky corridor met this week to talk about how to deal with the issue.
The gathering grew out of a Facebook site started by Squamish parent Bianca Peters whose son was bullied for most of the last school year.
Currently there are close to 250 people on the Facebook site, Bully Free Howe Sound.
The Monday night meeting drew about a dozen community members including a principal, former school trustee, District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) member and a teacher's aide.
"I was thrilled with the response," said Peters.
In an e-mail, Peters said the site has become a much-needed support group for parents and students.
"There is a need for parental support in this community," said Peters.
"So far the site is their best and only option. Questions parents are seeking answers for are 'What are the steps for the victim?' and 'What can I do to get involved?' It was noted that in a majority of cases, the bully's parents are disengaged from the conversation while the victim's parents are left wondering what to do next."
Those at the meeting highlighted the feeling that they felt there was a lack of intervention at the school level.
Peters has sent a letter to the Sea to Sky School District outlining the meeting and making a series of recommendations.
They include creating meaningful dialogue opportunities for the community and school populations, a policy of zero tolerance for violence - this applies to everyone including victims of bullying who reach a breaking point, a system to monitor and measure bullying in schools, and clarity in school district policies.
Peters has asked to meet with the school board.
Previously the school district has said it welcomes the chance to talk about the issue with parents, students and community members.
Cathy Jewett, chair of the DPAC, said this is a chance to have an open dialogue about the issue in the corridor.
"This is a great opportunity to hear from the parents and it gives then a certain amount of freedom to express themselves, and that is a good thing," she said.
"It also gives the school district a chance to read this material from parents and students as well... Just to be able to receive that kind of unsolicited response that is not under the auspices of the school district having a meeting or DPAC having a meeting is an opportunity.
"If we don't keep the communication open between parents, staff and the school district then we will be very sorry we missed this chance.
"Everyone wants to find a solution to this even though this is an issue that goes far beyond (our school district). This is something in society, we deal with it in the workplace, on the playgrounds, even in the summer time it is there. It doesn't go away."
DPACs and Parent Advisory Councils, however, are not mandated to deal with the issue directly.
Parents can access help through the Advocacy Project with British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.
It has produced a handbook, titled Speaking Up! A Parent Guide to advocating for students in public schools and also offers a message line that parents can call to ask for advice or volunteer to become part of the project. To reach it call 1-888-351-9834 or go to http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/advocacyproject.aspx to learn more.
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