Contributed by John Apah (Teacher Candidate)
PREVNet is an active network of 62 community-based organizations and 122 outstanding research scientists across the country including Dr. David Smith of the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa.
Through evidence-based research and information on violence and bullying prevention, PREVNet has discovered that repeated aggression, intimidation and shame could cause social and mental health problems to children who bully and to children who are victims. Beside, while the bullies use aggression to have control over their victims, children who get bullied find themselves more and more trapped in a powerless and an uncomfortable situation where they are being abused.
In order to determine the extent to which bullying phenomenon is present in a school, PREVNet proposes a number of online surveys and reports known as Bullying Evaluation and Strategies Tool. “PREVNet’s BEST”; as it is generally called is an evidence-based online bullying assessment instrument that is anonymous, reliable and has a proven reputation on producing data that enable schools to sort out solution to the bullying phenomenon. I will like to suggest PREVNet’s BEST surveys in my school because the report gives a real picture of the climate that prevails in the school environment.
Upon identifying a snapshot of the school environment in terms of bullying and students’ relationships, PREVNet proposes the teacher’s guide. The teacher’s guide is a manual that contains important information that the teacher needs to share with the students in order to enable them understand exactly what bullying is all about and how to deal with it. The guide advises the teacher on how to build a safe secure classroom environment where bullying is unacceptable.
Some of the strategies include developing, posting and discussing rules and sanctions related to bullying, holding regular class meetings during which students talk about bullying and peer relationship and, providing information to parents/guardians in order to encourage their active involvement. In addition, the guide encourages partnership between the teacher and the students alike, in order to identify the bullying behaviour and to collaborate in creating responses that best work.
Although PREVNet is not the first not-for-profit organization that carries out bullying prevention activities in Canada, it holds the record of being the first nation-wide platform that brings together specialists and community-based organizations to improve on bullying prevention strategies and on children’s relationships. However, enforcing successful bullying prevention programs depend very much on the creation of positive, safe, inclusive and acceptable school climate by the principal and the entire school staff.
In addition to efforts carried out by the school administration, Home, School and Community Partnerships is one of the five pillars of the Foundation for a Healthy School Environment that strives to enhance the well-being of students by promoting positive and healthy behaviours. And PREVNet is one example of the numerous Community Partners who strongly believes that students should feel happy, safe, respected and included in their school environment.