For Immediate Release: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

October 5, 2018

For immediate release

RE: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

Last year, allegations of sexual assault by a student resulted in legislative changes to the Schools Act, 1997, which came into effect on September 1, 2018. It provides the Director of Education with the authority to refuse to admit a student on school property where it is his/her opinion that the presence of the student is detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of students or staff. It was announced that polices were forthcoming based on these changes and to address sexual violence in our schools. However, in recent weeks, allegations of sexual assault at another school have come forward and highlighted the lack of movement on these promises.

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women believes that a holistic and trauma informed approach is needed that addresses the need for safety during transportation to and from school, during school, and while involved in extracurricular school activities.  This requires changes in policy and practice that address the physical and psychological safety needs of students and staff.  Trauma can impact an individual’s ability to acquire new knowledge and to retrieve stored information, thereby impacting the ability to learn. Creating safety is paramount in helping individuals regain a sense of control and concentrate.

Measures that address safety on buses may include the use of bus monitors, paid or volunteer, to assist with the supervision of students or cameras.  School buses can accommodate up to 72 passengers; far too many for a single driver to monitor while also having to tend to the duties of driving and following the rules of the road.  Cameras may provide legal evidence of the behaviours and actions that are occurring that are not observable by the driver.

During the school day, it is important to provide supports in terms of guidance and psychological services for those impacted by trauma and its impacts on daily activities.  In addition, accommodations, short or long term, may be required to help students remain in school and complete their curriculum.  This will be best determined by consulting with the student, their family and any professional supports they are using to assist with their recovery.

Policy and procedures for extracurricular activities should be reviewed and updated and ensure that they provide adequate supervision for all students.  The procedures for reporting incidents need to be clear and reflect the serious nature of the trauma a student may experience.

To create systemic change in how we identify and intervene when violence occurs can only happen with changes to the curriculum. Curriculum changes that focus on healthy relationships, boundary setting and consent can create a safe and more inclusive learning environment and help us ensure students lead vibrant and healthy lives. Professional development training in trauma informed practice is also necessary for all employees to ensure early detection and response, and to create supportive environments for all involved with teaching and shaping the minds of our children and youth.

PANSOW is available for consultation in creating these necessary changes as we have experience in providing both front line support to individuals impacted by sexual violence and in policy development.  Changes are needed now and we cannot wait for more students and families to be left in limbo.


Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522

Janice Kennedy

Executive Director

Bay St. George Status of Women Council

Tel. 709-643-4444


The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Media Release: PANSOW concerned the Premiers taskforce on education does not address high levels of domestic violence in NL

August 9th, 2017

Media Release

Newfoundland and Labrador

PANSOW concerned the Premiers taskforce does not address high levels of domestic Violence in NL

The Premiers task force on education was a welcome and long overdue report on the current state of our education system, that contained 82 key recommendations for change; ( many of which we support. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) is alarmed that the opportunity may have been missed to address the high levels of violence women experience in our province.

Domestic violence rates in Newfoundland and Labrador are the highest per capita in the country. In other provinces where domestic violence is showing a minor decline, NL is in fact seeing a rise in domestic violence. We have experienced several domestic violence homicides over the last decade, and quite frankly, the levels of violence can no longer be tolerated.

To end this cycle of violence, comprehensive changes to our education curriculum must be included. We can begin to have a substantial impact on violence in the province through teaching our children how to stop the cycle of violence for good. Violence is not the natural order of things; it is learned behaviour that can be unlearned. Violence is rooted in inequality and therefore there is a need for children to learn about and address the impacts of various forms of inequality.

The Premiers task force identified a number of issues that were raised repeatedly, such as students wanting education on gender sensitivities, respectful relationships, the meaning of consent, internet and online safety, violence and abuse (p. 32).  Despite this, none of the 82 recommendations address these concerns. It is time for an updated sex education curriculum, encompassing kindergarten to grade 12 – that is age and developmentally appropriate which includes:  healthy relationships, consent, gender inequality, LGTBQ experiences, sexual health and conflict resolution.

Updated education curriculum such as this has been launched in Ontario. Sex education is part of the “Healthy Living” section, under the category of Human Development and Sexual Health, which makes up about 10 % of their curriculum. This curriculum provides students with the opportunity to learn information that can help them to make healthy decisions surrounding food, safety at home, school and in the community, alcohol and other substances, sexual activity.” (

We implore the members of the task force, the Minister for Education and the Premier, to strike an immediate committee of experts to inform the taskforce how to include this curriculum change immediately and as part of the report.



Media contact:

Paula Sheppard Thibeau

Executive Director

Corner Brook Status of Women Council



Jenny Wright | Executive Director

St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre



PANSOW is a grass roots, feminist & non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in NL