Police AssociAtion of novA scotiA 57 Bullying Awareness 40th Annua l Cr ime Preven t i on Gu i de 2010 PANS As Originally Published - by Trevor Howlett Milford Station, Nova Scotia: While many politicians across the country were making promises, students at Riverside Education Centre (REC) in Milford Station were making a promise of their own: to help fight cyber-bullying. The recent deaths of two teenagers in Nova Scotia that were connected to cyber-bullying encouraged the teachers and students to take action to stop students from posting hurtful anonymous comments about their peers. REC held a meeting for parents on April 28 about their new initiative. “With both MSN (messenger) and Facebook, we were able to identify the source of the inappropriate comments. We could call the parents of the student and show them that their child was making inappropriate postings online,” said Lee Anne Arsenault, the guidance counselor at REC. “It was quite frightening for us around the fall though when we started hearing about Formspring.” She added, “On Formspring a person can hide their identity when they post something. I could be following 150 people and somebody posts something about anything at all, and if they click ‘hide my identity’, I may not know who the source is.” Around 90 per cent of the students at REC have already signed their pledge to stop using websites that allow anonymous comments, which means shutting down their Formspring accounts. A wall in the main foyer at Riverside is covered in students’ pledges. Formspring is a website similar to twitter, but focused on asking and answering questions about their favourite colour, band etc. Some students have posted questions about what people think about a particular student, which is how you can end up with insults and derogatory comments about their peers. “You don’t know when you make an insult to a person, in any form, what other baggage they might be carrying with them,” said Heather Douglas, principal at REC. “We’re trying to build on that sense of empathy, which in middle-school isn’t always first and foremost on their minds, but we’re trying to do what we can to build that in their repertoire of social skills.” Approximately 25 parents attended the meeting to learn about the school’s initiative, and discuss the strategies to counter cyberbullying. Ramona Jennex, the Minister of Education made a proclamation in the house of assembly last week to commend the schools efforts in combating the issue. The Nova Scotia Government has also announced that setting up a task force on cyber-bullying, which should yield recommendations by the end of this year. Students fight cyber-bullying