May 2016

With the legalization of marijuana officially on the table, questions about what that means for the nation are cropping up quicker than dispensaries across Toronto.  As politicians debate the issues, we’re left to ponder what’s to come…how and where will marijuana be sold? At what age can you purchase marijuana?  And perhaps the most pressing and controversial question of all: how will this impact the nation’s youth?

When it comes to the rights and best interest of youth, there’s quite a bit of contention among the experts.  While some emphasize the harms of use on cognitive development and mental health, others advocate for the reform of laws, arguing that the impact of criminalization on youth trajectories can be far worse than the impact of use itself.  Perhaps the greatest stakeholder of all in this discussion is schools.  Schools, whose main responsibility it is to protect and educate youth, will soon face increasing pressure to respond to new laws about marijuana use, policies, and education in schools.  But what will legalization mean for students, teachers, and the school community? Educators are left with a slew of questions such as:

  • What policies should schools have in place regarding use?
  • How should marijuana be discussed and taught in classrooms?
  • How far from school grounds will dispensaries be allowed to stand?
  • What are youth’s legal rights surrounding marijuana use?
  • What are the legal ramifications of illegal use or distribution?
  • What might the potential benefits of legalization be for schools?

Soon there will be inevitable changes to the national landscape, and schools will be expected to adapt.  They’ll need the knowledge and tools to respond to issues of illegal distribution, medicinal use, illegal use, and more. They’ll need to evaluate current policies and practices and make the adjustments they deem fit. They’ll need to reconsider the way they educate youth about the topic, while evaluating their capacity to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students.

We here at the Canadian Safe School Network realize how important it is to be prepared, and that’s why CSSN will be hosting, “The M Word: Exploring Perspectives on the Legalization of Marijuana and Safe Schools” in both Vancouver on October 5th and Toronto on October 6th.  Join us as experts from across sectors, including government, law enforcement, education, the cannabis industry and mental health, offer their perspectives on the impending legalization of marijuana and how it will affect students, educators, and safe school communities at large.  We’ll provide insights, answer questions, and promote discussion so that educators may feel better prepared for what’s to come.

To learn more about the Toronto conference or to register click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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The Canadian Safe School Network would like to give honourable mention to the following Safe Schools Story Book Contest submission.  Here is a beautiful poem entitled, “The Different Sheep” by 8th grade student Evelyn of Earl Marriott Secondary School. Evelyn’s message about diversity and inclusion really aligns with CSSN’s values. Thanks for sharing, Evelyn! Keep up the great work!

The Different Sheep

There were four groups of sheep, only four.

There weren’t less there weren’t more, four, four, four!

There were white sheep, grey sheep, brown and black.

The rest was history, no sheep ever looked back!

The white sheep were dumb, pretty and annoying;

The grey sheep were smart but rude and boring;

The black sheep were nasty, scary and mean;

At least that’s how the other sheep thought they did seem.

And at last came the brown sheep, all ignorant and popular.

They were the best of all, on top, spectacular!

Now one day at school, a brown sheep dropped her pencil,

But soon off the ground lifted the writing utensil.

The brown sheep looked up and saw the black sheep.

He was smiling, not nasty, scary or mean!

She took the pencil and started to think;

Maybe he wasn’t so bad, as he flashed her a wink.

On the walk home from school they had beautiful weather,

And when the black sheep saw the brown sheep he felt as light as a feather.

Slowly, the black sheep walked over to the white,

And very, very slowly, the black sheep said “Hi!”

Soon after that, they became friends,

And they played together secretly again and again.

One day a white sheep found them playing catch;

She turned to tell her friends, but soon after turned right back.

She joined in quickly, tossing the ball,

And bouncing it a few times against the school wall.

A grey sheep saw them playing, and drew in a gasp,

Thinking with his brain, he knew his task.

He caught the ball when the brown sheep couldn’t,

And kept playing catch, though they knew they shouldn’t.

One day they thought, let’s spread the word!

Let’s spread the word, let it fly like a bird!

The others were hesitant, nervous and scared,

What about the legends, the stories they’ve shared?

What about the stereotypes? Were they really true?

They’d never spoken to each other, they never knew!

Gradually they joined in playing catch, everywhere.

From morning to night, they didn’t care!

They had play dates and shared secrets, in and out of school.

They all played together, they forgot about the rules!

Forgetting the rumors, they blended together;

They would all be best friends, best friends forever!

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The Canadian Safe School Network is thrilled to announce the launch of our #StandTogether campaign!  #StandTogether is about recognizing our diversity, embracing our differences, and coming together in solidarity to prevent bullying.

Bullying and cyberbullying incidents are increasing every year.  Kids get bullied for all kinds of reasons, but 70% of reported bullying is because they either look or act differently – race, weight, height, clothing, and any physical, religious and sexual differences – can all play a part. And over half of all teens have had at least one negative social networking experience, while an alarming 33% of students who are bullied online report symptoms of depression.

The Canadian Safe School Network’s new Stand Together campaign takes a unique, action-centered approach which will help prevent bullying and make schools safer. We’re asking people to buy special anti-bullying socks with a portion of the sale going to help financially support meaningful programs like Lift Up, Press Play Documentary Contest and BullyStop hack-a-thons.

As part of our campaign, we’ve created an educational resource that can be used in classrooms across the country to prevent bullying. This educational resource offers practical tools, discussion prompts, and lesson-based activities for BULLYING, DIVERSITY, & KINDNESS.

Help make your school bully free! Check out the #StandTogether Educational Resource, and bring some exciting and valuable lessons about bullying, diversity, and kindness into your classroom!

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