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Nanaimo district’s bullying website replaced with provincial version

A new website developed by Nanaimo school district to put tools to combat bullying at students’ fingertips has been replaced with a provincewide version.

Last February, the district, with the Nanaimo RCMP and the Vancouver Island Crisis Line, unveiled the Teens Networking Together web and mobile phone site, which provided students with an avenue to report bullying incidents – anonymously if they chose. It also included an education piece and links to 24/7 support.

This fall, the province unveiled its own website and online reporting tool and the district shut down the TNT site to become part of this initiative.

Education officials felt that having two sites would be confusing to people, explained Jamie Brennan, school board chairman.

“It doesn’t make sense to have duplicates,” he said.

The province’s online reporting tool is part of ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) Bullying, an anti-bullying strategy announced by Premier Christy Clark last June.

Tom Piros, the district’s coordinator of safe schools, said the TNT site shut down Nov. 30 and students should now use the provincial tool, which can be accessed by going to www.erasebullying.ca or by contacting a school counsellor or administrator to report bullying incidents.

“We’re proud as a community that we launched something that has grown to a provincial capacity,” he said. “It was awesome our community launched the first safe teen social network site.

“Ideally, the ERASE program will take TNT to the next level.”

In its first six weeks of existence, the site received more than 400 hits from smart phones, said Spiros, and students were beginning to use the reporting tool – for example, administrators received several reports about harassment and intimidation of students the first week of September and just before the site shut down, there were about three reports from one of the secondary schools.

“We did not have reports every single day,” he said. “It came in waves. The youth were transitioning to use it. We were getting daily hits on our social media.”

Another aspect of the province’s anti-bullying strategy is training to help educators proactively identify and address threats.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said two teachers from each school in the district will receive this training next month.

The training is similar to what many Nanaimo educators have already received following development of a threat assessment protocol several years ago, so the district is sending staff who have not yet received it, she added.

“Our district was one of the districts in the province kind of at the forefront of threat assessment training,” said Reimer.

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