Paws stamp out bullying in Courtice
As recently as September 2002, things were desperate at Courtice Secondary
School. Every day, one young woman would come to school early and leave
late so she could hide from the students who were tormenting her. No one
knew the extent to which she was being bullied, until her mother went to
the school seeking assistance.
Now, a year and a half later, dozens of Angel Paws mentors
actively patrol the halls of Courtice Secondary, coming to the aid of
students who are being bullied.
Beverly Suddard is a guidance counsellor and student
council teacher at the Durham Region school. It is under her guidance
that students initiated the anti-bullying program.
“When the parent came in and told us her daughter
was being bullied, the (student council) class was outraged,” says
Beverly. “They wanted to protect her. They started Angel Paws.”
The role of Angel Paws mentors is not to confront the
bully, says Beverly. “They don’t acknowledge them in any way.
They help the victim. If they hear of something happening (while they
are on patrol), they’ll go to the victim and walk them away, while
someone else gets a teacher or someone in administration to handle the
Beverly is thrilled with the success of the program
to date. There are 54 students actively involved in the program who are
making their school a safer, more enjoyable place, she says.
“Today, they were talking about how much safer
the halls are, how much more confident they feel walking into the school,”
she says. “And the number of fights in the halls has decreased enormously.”
And, according to Beverly, because the students are taking bullying more
seriously, teachers are taking it more seriously as well.
The success of the Angel Paws program is not confined
to the boundaries of Courtice Secondary School. Another aspect of the
program is to reach out to other schools.
Angel Paws mentors visit Courtice Secondary’s
six elementary feeder schools to conduct workshops and inform Grade 7
and 8 students about the program. The result, according to Suddard, is
more confident and involved Grade 9 students.
“Some of the younger students are refusing to
be victims and are signing up as Angel Paws.” They are building
strong networks of friends while helping to improve the environment in
their school, she says.
Another outreach initiative was to make a presentation
at the recent daylong, Leaders of Today (Equity in Schools: It looks different)
event held in Peterborough. Three Angel Paws mentors, Kim Johnston, Alli
Hyde and Amanda Graham, told more than 100 secondary school student leaders
about their anti-bullying program, encouraging them to adopt a similar
program in their schools.
“As student leaders,” they stated during
their PowerPoint presentation, “If we’re not part of the solution,
then we’re part of the problem.”
Angel Paws has launched a new website at www.courticeangelpaws.com.
is reaching more people!
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