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Government launches new anti-bullying initiatives
MONTREAL - In an effort to curb bullying in schools, the Quebec government announced Sunday a series of anti-bullying measures aimed at students, parents and schools.
Premier Jean Charest and Education Minister Line Beauchamp renewed and expanded the Action Plan, first launched in 2008, with new measures to prevent and address violence in schools.
"We need to recognize that we all have a responsibility," said Charest. "That it's not just about the school. It doesn't happen only between 8 o'clock in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon."
The Charest Liberals plan to introduce a bill into the National Assembly involving an obligation to intervene in cases of intimidation or violence.
"There will be some criteria, some very clearly outlined objectives on the issue of intimidation within schools," he explained.
The new initiatives also include a three-year information campaign targeting youth about issues including cyberbullying. Commercials will be broadcast on television and on the Internet.
During their speech, Charest and Beauchamp brought up the death of teenager Marjorie Raymond, who last fall took her own life after becoming a victim of bullying.
"It was a very emotional moment for a lot of Quebecers who through that event, and every time we hear about intimidation, they... remember incidents that they witnessed," said Charest.
They also mentioned that bullying has changed and is no longer confined to the schoolyard, with, most notably, the advent of social networks.
After last Sunday's Plan Nord press conference promoting what he called job creation and harnessing of natural resources in Northern Quebec, the premier's second weekend press conference in as many weeks fuelled election speculation.
Charest, however, deflected questions about when a spring election would be called, by stressing the importance of the bullying issue.
"My presence today is to say that this is something we care very deeply about," he said.
With files from La Presse Canadienne.