Youth mental health expert heading to Cape Breton in response to rash of teen suicides
The deaths of three middle school students in Cape Breton has prompted school board officials to turn to outside help to find ways to combat bullying and youth mental health issues.
"If we keep doing the same thing we've always done, we're going to get the same results we've always gotten, so there's no doubt we can do things better," says Donnie Holland of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.
But many Cape Breton residents are stil trying to figure out what should be done to address the situation.
Some parents have criticized the school board for refusing to say there is a bullying crisis. Board officials maintain that bullying is a complex societal problem that cannot be fixed by schools alone.
"It's not an exact science, and everyone wants to have a knee jerk reaction. But you're dealing with kids, you're dealing with some very complicated situations," says Holland.
Whether or not it's being called a crisis, the provincial government is now sending a specialist in youth mental health and suicide to Cape Breton.
Dr. Stan Kutcher will arrive on the Island Monday, accompanied by a special medical team to look into what the government calls "a very serious situation."
"To go and engage the representatives in the community and the school system, families, to learn more about those specific circumstances," says Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey.
Some wonder if government should be providing schools with more resources to deal with these issues.
"School boards are given the responsibility and authority to make staffing decisions. That is the responsibility of the board," says Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill.
Meanwhile, some feel part of the solution starts with students themselves.
"We have to make sure that kids feel empowered enough to stand up together, because you'll never see a bully pick on a crowd. He picks on an individual, and I think that's one of the best ways to try to deal with bullying is to make sure kids stand together," says Donnie Holland.
While social media is playing a big part in this, the school board says they are not considering banning cellphones from schools at this time.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald.