Thousands of T.O. students take anti-bullying pledge
Toronto students cheered, chanted and pledged to end school bullying at a raucous rally held at the Ricoh Coliseum on Thursday.
The day-long event featured 9,000 students from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and a series of motivational speakers, athletes and entertainers.
The rally was designed to spotlight bullying, much in the news following the death of 15-year-old Ottawa high-school student James Hubley. Openly gay, and tormented by depression and his peers, Hubley committed suicide on Oct. 15.
TDSB Director Chris Spence wants students to understand that bullying won't stop unless a collective effort is made.
"You have a say in what goes on in your school. Because a safe school is a shared responsibility," Spence told CTV.
"And that's why the pledge ‘I will make it better' speaks to every kid. That's what we're asking them to do."
Students made the anti-bullying pledge en masse.
Rally speakers said bullying was prevalent in schoolyards and on computer screens. Cyber-bullying, it was a noted, was a growing problem.
Kids were also treated to entertainment in the form of freestyle soccer pioneer Eli Freeze, the band Neverest, beatboxer J-Box and freestyle rapper Duane Gibson.
The Ontario government has introduced legislation that would ramp up penalties against school bullies who pick on kids like Smith.
The proposed legislation would also force schools to allow students to form gay-straight clubs, which Hubley had been trying to organize in his own high school at the time of his death.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Colin D'Mello