January 2015

“Children must feel safe in order to be freed up to learn. ” – Mary Gordon, Founder of Roots of Empathy.

This year we are pleased to welcome Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy as our Keynote speaker at the 18th Annual Safe Schools Conference coming up February 24th.

Roots of Empathy is a charitable organization that originated in Toronto in 1996. There mission: to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. They believe by focusing on empathy, creating respectful relationships, we are able to reduce levels of bullying and aggression in children. 

There is no doubt that a safe and caring classroom will benefit learning. This practice extends across all areas of safe school issues, whether it be mental health, LGBTQ, special education, or any other area. Creating environments that are inclusive, and based on positive relationship practices will benefit all. The key to Roots of Empathy’s philosophy is to engage all students. We cannot label and target the “troubled” child or the “bully”. Instead, it is teaching all students how to act with empathy that will build a positive culture all around.

As Mary Gordon states in her presentation description, many children cannot find unconditional comfort and support at home. This is when school becomes a safe-haven, and teachers play an even more influential role. To help students overcome any of the challenges they may be facing in their crucial developmental years we must foster empathy and positive relationships.

We are excited to have Mary Gordon join us in Toronto on the 24th. Click here to read her full presentation description.

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Votes are in! We are so excited to announce the winner of the first ever Safe Schools Story Contest! Congratulations to the first place winner:

Title: Who Belongs

Author: Alexis C.


And with so many entries we have chosen 2 second place winners to be published in the safe schools story book! Congratulations to:

Rebecca W.  and Saheb T.

Our winners have now been contacted, and the story publishing process will begin soon!

Thank you to all of the student authors who sent entries. We received many more stories than anticipated and we had a great time reading them all! Also, a big thank you to the teachers who implemented our story contest into their curriculum and sent us a classroom worth of stories!

The Safe Schools Story book will be published later this year, and made available on our website and at our conferences and events. It will feature the 3 winning stories, as well as resources and questions on safe school issues for educators to use in their classrooms.

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A few months ago, we received a call telling us that a member of the Leafs community wanted to help put an end to cyberbullying. We couldn’t have been happier to meet with April Reimer and learn about her story of overcoming bullying, and her plan for the #TweetSweet campaign.

Her motivation to help came from her own experience of being bullied online. In the 2013-2014 NHL season April began receiving extremely negative and harassing messages via Twitter after her husband James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs goalie) was not performing up to standards on the ice. Even more, a few frustrated fans managed to access her cell phone number and she received anonymous calls and texts with hurtful messages.

April felt fortunate enough to have an outpouring of support from family, friends, and even fans. With the right mentality she was able to stay strong in the face of bullying. The experience led to a realization that dealing with cyberbullying is a very difficult struggle, and that being offered support and kindness from others is an incredible solution. And so, #TweetSweet was born.

The campaign challenges students to say positive things online, instead hurtful messages. In return, April is using her resources to reward students for contributing to a healthy online community.

It’s as simple as the slogan: #TweetSweet might get your sweet seats!
She is referring, of course, to seats at Toronto Maple Leaf home games.

To kick start the campaign, April made her first presentation yesterday morning at Park Lawn Junior Middle School.
The Globe and Mail has written a follow up, and posted her presentation video.

We are very proud to be partnered with April for this fantastic initiative!
Learn more: www.tweetsweet.ca

There will be lots more to come!

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We are cooking up some exciting new initiatives for 2015 and we can’t wait to share them with you! Without giving away too much just yet, we want to give you a hint about a new partnership with a little known hockey team.

CSSN has sponsored a new initiative promoting safe schools and safe online behavior that will launch this week!

As a lead up to this event, we want to share with you some of our tips for dealing with, and learning about cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying?
Using email, text messages, and/or social media apps and sites to repeatedly threaten, embarrass, socially exclude or damage reputations and friendships.

Steps to Follow:
If your child is being cyberbullied:

– Do not reply to the bully
– Do not delete messages. Save as much information as possible; full headers, including email address/username, date and time received/posted, the name of the social media, or site where the message originated.
-Report the bullying to the site, mobile phone service provider, or social media app.
-If the bully attends the same school as your child, inform the principal.
– Inform your local police.

Online Safety Tips: 
-Talk to your children about their online friends and activities.
– Get to know the technology. Talk to your children about what social media they are using, and learn how they work/ their purpose.
– Initiate a internet use “contract” between you and your child, where you outline the house rules for using the internet and mobile devices. Both you and your child should sign this contract and agree to honour it.
– Keep computers in an open area – not in bedrooms.
– Teach your children not to give out personal information such as names and passwords, phone numbers, address or personal photos.
-Set a good example. Use mobile technology and the internet in the same way you would like your children to use it. (Ie. do not use your cell phone at the dinner table, if this is a rule you have set for your child.)

A fantastic resource by the Government of Canada on Cyberbullying can be found HERE.

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