The province hopes to make schools and communities safer through a new strategy that will ensure teachers are trained on how to spot and address bullying.
Premier Christy Clark announced the new B.C.-wide anti-bullying strategy Friday during a press conference at Surrey's Tong Louie YMCA.
The ERASE bullying strategy, which stands for Expect Respect and a Safe Education, will begin in the 2012-13 school year, and ensures consistent policies and practices across all 60 of B.C.'s school districts.
"We all want our kids to be safe, especially at school," Clark said. "That's why when I became premier, I promised to address bullying in our school system as a high priority for my government."
The province is committing $2 million to the project, Clark said during a press conference Friday.
The program will include a five-year training program, which will involve more than 15,000 educators and community partners, with an emphasis on identifying and dealing with bullying.
Upcoming teachers will be trained before they begin work, Clark said, and one professional development day each year will be dedicated to training teachers throughout B.C. on bullying.
The strategy also includes a new smart phone app for kids to report bullying anonymously, dedicated safe school coordinators in every school district, stronger codes of conduct for schools and new online resources for parents.
So many people deal with bullying, Clark said, whether it's the lasting impact of being bullied following you throughout life, or even a bully dealing with the guilt of hurting others.
"You live with it for the rest of your life," she said.
A difference is made when someone steps in and says it isn't OK, she said.
"We need to create a culture where there are no bystanders."
Clark said the strategy is intended to move past legislation to try to make a difference at a societal level.
Education Minister George Abbott said it's appropriate the anti-bullying strategy was announced in Surrey.
Not only for the school district's size, but because it's a very diverse district that has strong anti-bullying programs and policies, he said.
"Until we can say no student, no human being is not being bullied in the province, we cannot rest," Abbott said.
Buffy Cornell, a former Tamanawis Secondary school student, spoke to reporters Friday.
Cornell had to transfer to a Langley school because of excessive bullying at Tamanawis, where she and her sister were the subject of constant taunting.
"I became a racial minority," Cornell said of entering high school. "Being white made me a target."
When she and her sister were transferred to Brookswood Secondary in Langley, bullying began again. A group of boys would taunt Cornell in class, and throw food at her and her sister during lunch hour.
But things turned around when the girls joined the school's rugby team.
"At rugby, we were able to make friends who saw us for who we were," Cornell said. "It started to give us a sense of self worth and self confidence."
Cornell is pleased with the ERASE bullying strategy, and thinks it will make a real difference.
"One day, every kid will feel safe walking through their school's doors," she said.