By Erin McCabe
Wayne Mackay, a law professor at Dalhousie University, is confident that his recommendations in his report on cyberbullying will continue to be considered by Nova Scotia’s Department of Education.
MacKay’s report on bullying/cyberbullying, which was released on March 22, focuses on the rise in bullying and gives recommendations which could allow the school boards to fight against bullying.
The report comes after a number of teen suicides, with causes that may have been related to bullying.
“It wasn’t the only factor,” says MacKay. “ It was kind of the final straw, I think, on how serious this is but it seems that world-wide and in Nova Scotia there’s just a lot of bullying and cyberbullying that goes on and the consequences are very large – suicide being the most extreme.”
The report has received some criticism from the Department of Education.
Mackay says, “I suppose I would be honest and say I’m a little disappointed in some of the early responses from the Department of Education where they’re, on one hand, saying they’re going to look at all of it and be open-minded – and I hope they will – but at least initially there are negative reactions to a couple of recommendations.”
There’s the potential cost of implementing some of the recommendations into the school system, but MacKay thinks it’s more important to pay the money if it means preventing bullying.
“Yes, it costs some money but there’s a lot of cost in not doing this. What’s the cost of children committing suicide? What’s the cost of people dropping out of school? … It’s a good investment, not just a cost.”
MacKay remains “reasonably optimistic” that the report will withstand the criticism and is encouraged by the public’s support. In his opinion, the public is eager to do something to reduce the amount of bullying that goes on.
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“I think the process of raising awareness to a point where people are going to insist that something is going to be done … I’m optimistic that things are going to get better.”
The report is only the first step.
“There’s certainly a lot more research and things that can be done and I guess it is our hope though, that the Department of Education and the other people we identified will implement these recommendations and engage in more research,” says MacKay.
Full interview with Wayne MacKay.