St. Michael’s College School is set to launch the next phase in its journey to change the culture at the Toronto all-boys’ school that led to a highly-publicized bullying scandal and the expulsion of and criminal charges laid against members of the school’s junior football team.

Published in Canada

Passers-by hardly give it a glance. A Kingston place key to my past is about to vanish, forever.

Published in Guest Columnists
VATICAN – Just as the influence of the Holy Spirit is recognized when one does an act of charity, Christians also must recognize the presence of the devil when bullying occurs, Pope Francis said.
Published in Reflections

Dapinder Ahluwalia’s 14-year-old son starts high school next month. Like many parents, she’ll spend the last days of summer ensuring he has the right school supplies and a copy of his class schedule.

Published in Features

Recent stories about two Catholic high schools are terrific examples of how government policies can sometimes produce the exact opposite effect as intended.

Published in Robert Brehl

The other day a real-life discussion between pals reminded me of Unbroken, a movie opening on Christmas Day and based on the best-selling book and true story of a courageous American airman during the Second World War.

Published in Robert Brehl

BRAMPTON, ONT. - Nine high school students in Brampton learned this week that while talk may be cheap, tweeting isn't.

"Over the weekend it came to the attention of the administration at the school that some disparaging, offensive and totally inappropriate comments were directed at specific teachers at St. Marguerite d'Youville School," said Bruce Campbell, director of communication for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. "The school investigated and found nine students involved in a Twitter discussion."

While Campbell wasn't able to say exactly how the school became aware of the comments, he did say in the past students, parents and staff members have brought similar comments to the attention of school administration.

In this case the remarks made ranged from sexually explicit comments to messages of violent aggression directed specifically at three of the school's teachers — two female and one male.

Punishments varied in severity based on the degree in which each student participated in the "extremely derogatory" conversation. The nine were sent home Nov. 21, with five students receiving suspensions — two students hit with seven-day suspensions, the others with two-day suspensions.  

"The remaining two students, who's remarks were the most outrageous, received seven-day suspensions, they have to write letters of apology and they have been removed from the classrooms of those teachers whom these disparaging remarks were directed," said Campbell. "Peel police were actually called in to speak with a couple of them regarding the tone of the remarks. No charges were laid but two students were given a warning."

Campbell said none of the students were known for causing trouble in the past.

"These were good kids who made a bad decision."

Although the board is still developing a policy specifically regarding social media, these comments fall under the Catholic Code of Conduct's section on conduct injurious to the moral tone of the school.

Campbell said there is a good lesson to be learned out of all of this, which the school's principal has been echoing in the morning announcements during Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week in Ontario.

"Bullying, cyber-bullying or any kind of bullying is wrong," said Campbell. "Once you use social media it's not a conversation directly between you and two or three or four friends; it's out there.

"Regardless of whether it's during the day, off time, the weekend or in the summer, if somebody makes remarks directly related to somebody at the school — whether it be faculty, staff, admin or student — they should be aware that that has impact on the moral tone of the school and if we find out about it we're going to act on it."

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

The Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty has pulled a dramatic about-face by breaking a pledge not to force Catholic schools to use the term gay-straight alliance for anti-bullying clubs.

Instead, Education Minister Laurel Broten has announced an amendment to Bill 13 to make it mandatory that Catholic students be allowed to name their clubs gay-straight alliances if that is their wish.

"Under our amendments (to Bill 13), no school board or principal can refuse to allow students to use the name "gay-straight alliance" to describe their clubs," Broten said in a letter released to Liberal supporters on May 25.

Published in Education

TORONTO - The Catholic Civil Rights League of Canada has challenged the Liberal government's proposed Bill-13 over the anti-bullying legislation's focus on gender and sexual orientation.

Joanne McGarry, executive director of the league, along with league president Phil Horgan, addressed the Ontario government’s standing committee for social policy May 15. They expressed the league's opposition to Bill-13 because of its focus on gender, its infringement on denominational rights and its impact on curriculum.

Published in Education

Rather than going back to the drawing board, the Ontario government’s flawed anti-bullying legislation has instead gone to all-party committee hearings where, hopefully, common sense and good law-making will finally prevail. Under the circumstances, that is a positive development.

For several months the governing Liberals and opposition Conservatives have bickered over competing pieces of legislation to curb schoolyard bullying. To break the deadlock, the parties agreed to send both bills to committee to meld them into a policy that can be quickly passed and implemented by September. The committee discussions are likely to focus on controversial sections of the Liberal bill that place special emphasis on gender issues and homophobia-based bullying.

Published in Editorial

This week's lead review is "Bully" a film which hasn't been short of media coverage - Lee Hirsch's look at bullying in U.S. school. We're also taking a look at the updated version of "The Three Stooges" and the "Titanic" 3-D re-release.

Published in Movie News

The Ontario Liberal government's anti-bullying legislation, Bill 13, is more about social ideology than bullying, some 2,000 protesters were told outside Queen's Park on March 29.

"Bill 13 ignores the number one cause of bullying — body shape and image," said Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics.

"Dalton McGuinty's ignoring of the number one cause of bullying is proof that this (legislation) is not about bullying. This bill was not written by people who want to reduce bullying. It was written by people who want to change social views about human sexuality.

Published in Education

TORONTO - Students from Toronto’s Loretto College School and surrounding high schools joined together to Give Peace a Dance.

About 300 people filled Loretto College’s auditorium on March 7 to promote awareness about violence against youth, bask in the talents of students and raise funds for the Plan Canada Because I am a Girl initiative.

“It’s a safe-school campaign against youth violence in and around school communities,” said Paulina Onilla, a youth worker at Loretto College who first organized the event seven years ago. “We invite our fellow schools from different parts of the city to come and join us on the campaign and create awareness that they are their schools and they need to take them back in terms of safety.”

Published in Youth Speak News

OTTAWA - An Ottawa-based think tank said mandating gay-straight alliances (GSAs) as part of Ontario government’s anti-bullying strategy will only force students into activism.

The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) warns of negative effects on freedom and equality if Ontario’s Equity and Inclusion Strategy forces students to move “beyond tolerance to acceptance and respect.”

“Diversity will only flourish in Ontario schools when students are encouraged to respectfully interact with different thoughts and opinions,” said the IMFC in its study entitled Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy Reviewed. [DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE]

Published in Canada

There has been a strange silence from the top of the Dalton McGuinty government on the  contentious issue of gay-straight alliance clubs.


The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association gave its response to the government’s proposal on Jan. 25. Catholic schools will respect differences but will not go against Church teaching, the OCSTA document said.
The document was a challenge to the government’s attempt to steamroll over Catholic schools but also a strong affirmation of religious freedom and the constitutional right of Catholics to run their own education system.

Published in Guest Columns
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