What’s wrong with anti-bullying laws? A lot, actually

While politicians across Canada fall over themselves to hastily pass “anti-bullying” legislation, one Alberta MLA is bucking the trend:

If a Calgary Conservative MLA has her way, Alberta will not be enacting any more laws to combat bullying even though she knows many desperate parents want exactly that.

Sandra Jansen, an associate minister tasked with investigating what the provincial government should do to combat bullying in schools, public places and cyberspace believes more legislation won’t deter bullies or help their victims.

She prefers an approach that treats bullying as a “mental health issue” for both the bully and the victim. Education programs, intervention and treatment are far more effective than simply punishing offenders, Jansen recently told a Calgary audience.

Alberta’s Education Act already has some of the toughest anti-bullying provisions in the country and was among the first to address bullying in schools. But Jansen doesn’t want to go any further with anti-bullying laws such as those recently adopted in Nova Scotia and by municipalities in Alberta and across the country.

She recalled a case in a Calgary school that involved a grade school student who was extremely disruptive and menacing. When the school’s police resource officer and social workers began investigating they discovered a home with a younger child who exhibited the same behaviour and a mother who could barely get out of bed because of severe depression.

And there was no food in the house.

The mother received help for her depression and the children, who remained at home, were provided with counselling and other social supports.

“Those boys are now doing really well in school and playing hockey,” Jansen said. “Punishment would not have solved anything.”

Read it all.  Nova Scotia’s anti-bullying laws, the toughest in the country, have already been deployed against a teenager accused of “cyberbullying” a member of the legislature.

Via Chris Selley on Twitter.

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