FREDERICTON (GNB) — The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child will be a key topic of discussion in New Brunswick schools this year during Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, Nov. 17-21.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a landmark treaty that establishes the civil, cultural, economic, health, political and social rights of children,” Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Serge Rousselle said. “The spirit of this document corresponds to the aim of Anti-Bullying Awareness Week. That is why it is ideal as the basis of discussion among students about the importance of treating others respectfully, accepting people’s differences and even celebrating our diversity.”  

The purpose of the week is to encourage discussion among students, staff, parents and community members about all forms of bullying and about ways they can work together to reduce and prevent incidents both in and beyond schools.

This year the week coincides with the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the convention by the United Nations General Assembly. During the week, schools will focus on the convention because many of its articles relate directly to the prevention of bullying and the promotion of healthy relationships.

In advance of the week, each school will plan anti-bullying activities for students and staff with support from school districts and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. 

The opening ceremonies for the week will be held at Polyvalente Thomas-Albert in Grand-Falls on Monday, Nov. 17. The overall theme of the week will be Together, anything is possible! Daily activities will reflect specific themes such as: building healthy relationships; cyberbullying prevention and intervention; celebrating diversity; rights of the child; and promoting positive mental health.  With these themes, schools will focus on particular topics in accordance with their needs.

In the francophone sector, singer/songwriter and former Cirque du Soleil lead singer Christian Kit Goguen, from Saint-Charles, will give 50 presentations to students in grades 6 through 12 in 68 schools. Goguen, who experienced bullying in his youth, will encourage students to respect people’s differences and regard diversity as a virtue.

Goguen will also deliver five evening presentations, around the province, for parents and the general public.

During Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, students will be able to:

  • participate in a variety of educational and awareness activities tailored to their needs;
  • learn about building healthy relationships; and
  • develop further positive social skills and empathy.

This year’s event will also be a time for staff to:

  • reflect on their school’s climate and learning environment;
  • celebrate the successes of the first few months of school; and
  • plan for the upcoming months of school.

“Everyone in our province can play a role in the ongoing effort to reduce and avert incidents of bullying in our schools and communities,” Rousselle said. “I encourage all New Brunswickers to observe Anti-Bullying Awareness Week and take part in related activities this year. Together, we can work to ensure everyone feels safe, included, respected and valued among his or her peers.”