Results from the OSTA-AECO 2011 Student & Parent Survey shows just over two-thirds of Canadian students want schools to take action against cyber-bullying, even when it occurs outside of school time.
The results also found almost all of parents surveyed agree schools should develop policies to address cyber-bullying. Not surprisingly, students and parents didn't agree on every issue in the surveys.
The Ontario Student Trustees’ Association-l’Association des élèves conseillers et conseillères de l’Ontario (OSTA-AECO) conducts surveys each year to ensure student voices are heard by policy makers.
The OSTA-AECO surveys are developed by the students and provide a framework for the school boards, education stakeholders, and the Ministry of Education to support policy changes that will benefit students and communities. It gives the students an opportunity to speak out.
In addition to cyber-bullying, the survey found students overwhelmingly want the right to establish Gay Straight Alliances, while only a small majority of parents were in favor.
Parents also found it unacceptable for students to connect with teachers on socials sites. In contrast, just under two-thirds of students felt it was alright to do so.
One-third of parents responded they were unaware students felt pressure to finish high school in four years, yet on half of the student said they did feel pressured.
Just under one half of the students felt sex-education falls short in teaching what they can expect. Two-thirds of parents felt sexual education in school is inadequate.
Almost one-fourth of parents said fees prevent them from enrolling their children in sports other extracurricular activities, with about one-third of students saying fees prevented them from participating.
Parents and students agreed teachers should be recognized for their own participation in extracurricular activities.
The surveys were taken online using Surveymonkey.com. Students and parents answered “yes” and “no” to a variety of education topics that also included the ability to write comments.
Other topics included whether students and parents felt healthy food options are available at school – 59.7 percent of parents said, yes.
Many said their children won’t eat in school cafeterias because the food tastes bad. One parent noted healthy food costs more, but unhealthy food, available down the street, can be had for a fraction of the cost.
When it comes to cyber-bullying and other mental health issues, one-third of the students responded in the OSTA-AECO surveys that they wouldn’t know where to go for help if they have a psychological issue.
They also said they wouldn’t know where to direct a friend with mental health issues. The number of parents who felt they would not know where to go for help was much smaller.
Students feel if cyber-bullying is going on outside of the classroom it’s eventually going to happen in school.
One student commented:
"Cyber-bullying is like any other bullying. It is hurtful, and may lead to people injuring themselves (mentally and/or physically). Since students are still part of the school, the school should take responsibility and stop it before it gets any worse. It doesn’t matter if it is during or outside of school. Bullying is bullying, and it is unacceptable."
A parent had this to say:
"Cyber-bullying has repercussions that carry forth into the school day. Facebook connects the masses. And the masses can be stirred up and against an individual. The stress / danger don’t stop being a concern at 8:15 and resume at 2:30."
Even though parents and students don’t always agree on educational and social matters, the surveys found cyber-bullying remains an issue that both parents and students agree about.
Eighty four percent of parents who responded said school should take action against cyber-bullying; 69.5% of students felt it’s the school’s duty to ensure their environment is safe and that bullying on the internet is a growing problem.