The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) is making it easier to report incidents that happen at its schools.

As part of its Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, the NNDSB has launched the Safer Schools Reporting tool, allowing parents, students and community members to report incidents through an online portal.

Gay Smylie, Superintendent of Education, says the idea was born out of complaints from parents which went unaddressed.

“Over a number of years I had seen and heard from parents that there were incidents that they were aware of that weren’t dealt within the school system. Upon further investigation of these, when I asked if they had reported the incident, they would say they hadn’t,” she explained.

Smylie says the online reporting tool will give the school community another option to report incidents beyond directly contacting the principal.

“Obviously, what we would like parents and students to do is report directly to the principal, but unfortunately that’s not always possible. There are certainly some students that are more comfortable going home and telling their parents,” she noted.

The reporting is available on the NNDSB website. It asks for the school, the date of the incident, and a thorough description of what happened. Anonymous reports will be accepted.

Smylie says one of the original names for the reporting tool was the “Bully Button”, but felt like the service went beyond that.

“It’s not just about incidents of bullying. Bullying is usually just one small component in serious incidents that a principal may have to deal with,” she explained, adding incidents of intoxication, drug possession or belligerence could also be reported through the tool.

Smylie says she expects a brief spike in reports in the first few weeks of the service being unveiled, but hopes that it will become another service to ensure student well-being.

“It will help us identify trends and create system-wide practices that can be captured in our bullying prevention and intervention plans,” she said.