Tuesday, 28 May 2013

WiFi Promoters Bullying Online

Presentation to the SD61 Board
May 21, 2013

Bullying may be overt with resulting physical and psychological harm that stays with the individual for their entire life. Or it may be subtle, such as making mocking or disrespectful comments, eye rolling, smirking or negating/laughing at an individual's personal life experience. Whatever form bullying takes, it often results in those involved becoming less respectful and empathetic.
THESE are TWO QUALITIES ESSENTIAL to any mature and sensitive dialogue.
The current SD61 Discrimination Policy 4303 states, “As students learn by example, all members of the school community should model respectful conduct regardless of perceived differences and should refuse to tolerate any form of discrimination.”
AND “Discrimination includes any behaviour that is known, or reasonably should be known, to be offensive. The Board does not and shall not tolerate any conduct of discrimination toward any individual or group.
Unfortunately the WiFi in School issue has become an area where disrespectful and bullying behavior continues to take place.
I will distribute to the Board a list of some examples of the social media language being posted or retweeted by some Pro-Wifi advocates to describe people concerned about Wifi in schools.
There are far too many to mention in the short time I am allowed, and I will not point fingers as to who said what. But I will share a small sampling of comments related to the issue of WiFi concerns for your reference.
Only a few samples are:

·       “Maybe we should have wifi activism days. Wear tinfoil to show support” (VI)
·       “He presented himself as an oddity… BCEducation is bowing to THIS lowest common denominator? Shame” (VI)
·       “Thank heavens ignorance and superstition is not acquired via osmosis.” (VI r/t)
·       “Now we have inequity in BCED because of parent extremists hijacking School District” (VI)
·       “They have SD hostage. Apparently some radical parent group threatening to sue” (VI)
·       “Bizzaro”
·       “Annoying”
·       “Trolls”
·       “Nutbars”
·       “This could be a Pseudo-science drinking game”
·       “Ridiculous. They may as well confine their children to bomb shelters their whole lives”
·       “Well if it was for the weird couple at my PAC meeting tonight Asking me to turn my phone to airplane mode” (VI)
·       “A nutter at the PAC asked me to turn my cell to airplane mode” (VI)
·       “They’re uneducated because wifi distracted them from learning. Haha. Or lack of WiFi” Followed by “No, their tinfoil hats protect them from the “danger”
·       “WiFi and internet make a mass of knowledge available. If they used it, they’d find that wifi doesn’t pose risks”
·       “Would they be anti-printing press?”
·       “Tinfoil Hats Mandatory”
·       “I wonder if people who object to integrating technology into learning have ever tried it? (VI) Response: I remember using a pencil once. But it broke” I’ve been afraid of them ever since”

·       HASHTAG: WTF
·       HASHTAG: zerocredibility
·       To SD63: “Disappointing you don’t yet have wifi in your elementary schools to implement”
followed by HASHTAG: Fail

·       “We won’t have a sci-fi future if the Luddites win” (DL)
·       “Surreal moral hysteria” (DL)
·       “I helped my 7 year old son build an AM radio this afternoon … which is, of course, the gateway drug to experimenting with wifi” (DL)
·       “Alas, scientists who reviewed “evidence” found it less compelling. In related news: they’re from France” (DL)
·       “Anyway, I’ve got to run, turn on Wifi, & teach” (DL)
·       “Anonymous Twitter Sockpuppets” (DL)
·       “Madzers, all of them”
·       “Religious revival meeting”
·       In reference to the recent Ops Meeting expert presenter Katharina Gustavs… “Circular reasoning of moral panic” (DL)

·       In response to Trustee Deborah Nohr’s Times Colonist Letter (VI r/t) :
·       “Tin Foil Alert” followed by
·       “Has she USED a laptop or iPad?” followed by
·       HASHTAG: rollingmyeyes and
·       HASHTAG: whonottovoteforinSD61 (VI)
·       “I need to encourage a Board with sense to open here” (V)
·       HASHTAG: Fail
·       On the bullying issue: 
“We should focus on responsible citizenship. It shocks me how horrible some people can be.” (VI)
·       “A bully is a bully, cyber or not”

·       “Your informed consent remark makes me chuckle”
·       “Fasten your, uh, tinfoil helmet” Followed by a Guardian editorial with a photo of a man wearing a ridiculous expression and a tin foil hat.

·       In reference to people with EHS: “More likely to be Mental Illness” (VI)  https://twitter.com/Kathy_Rice/status/313698225372680192

·       After someone posted
“Ridicule is counterproductive… Education Principles and Strategies more effective” was this response:
·       “I met some of the activists. (they are) Ridicule worthy (V)


There are potentially days worth of discussions around conflicting scientific research, precautionary principle, pedagogical implications and conflicts of interest.

The very TONE used in the discussion of this topic makes those suffering with EHS feel disrespected, along with their families that support them. As you heard, even trustees are not immune.

As this Board has heard before, my son is medically diagnosed as extremely electro hyper-sensitive.
This is a terribly isolating condition on it’s own. Youth have enough to worry about without the added social awkwardness of needing to ask peers to shut off their cell phones or disable their wifi because it makes them ill.
At one point before we figured this all out, my son was suffering so much with the symptoms that he was suicidal.
Now try and imagine yourself in his place, or any other student or adult with EHS.
Reports are occurring regularly of EHS sufferers around the world committing suicide.
When word got out at my son’s high school that he was sensitive to RF radiation, a few kids started taunting him, not only with hurtful words and ridiculing actions, but also by the very thing that he is sensitive to. They would wave their phones at him and ask if he could feel it, if it hurt him, while laughing all the while.
To me, this is an example of triple bullying – not only are they displaying disrespectful, offensive and aggressive behaviour, they are inferring that they obviously do not believe him and then, as a final insult, actually attempting to hurt him with what he is sensitive to.
To know that other adults, parents or educators are participating in discrimination and dismissal of those with a sensitivity is absolutely abhorrent. They may not be conscious that their remarks or eye-rolling is dismissive and disrespectful. Even school board officials using the term “a small vocal group” is dismissive, especially when the entire school community has not been provided an environment in which they are fully informed.
There is much about EHS that still can’t be explained.
I will share a personal example and ask how the “Nocebo Effect” can explain the following outcomes.
While reducing RF exposure in our home and removing WiFi for our son’s benefit, my constant, serious heart palpitations practically ceased. I had been seeing a Cardiologist for years  and was on heart medication. It became very clear that if I am around Wifi routers for a length of time, I get heart palpitations. I received a medical diagnosis of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).
My office at my workplace is quite a distance from the closest wifi access point, so I am able to function without it affecting my heart.
In 2011, I suddenly started having severe palpitations when in my office. This was witnessed by all of my coworkers.
On the 3rd consecutive day of this, and after my IT department ruled out transmitter changes, I set out with the aid of an RF meter to track down the source. I was led to a Nursing Lab right above my office. I inquired of a Nursing Instructor if there had been any recent additions of any wireless devices in the Nursing area. She was very excited to show me some newly acquired  and TOP SECRET equipment. It was “Metiman”, the wifi-enabled Nursing Dummy that would emit his vital stats and symptoms to the nursing students wirelessly.
Nobody was yet aware of the TOP SECRET and exciting new acquisition because a donation announcement event was upcoming.
I informed the instructor that I was made aware of the new wireless equipment because my heart palpitations indicated the location. The dummy was moved to a different lab, and my heart palpitations stopped. Luckily in this case my HR department did not need to get involved to accommodate my EHS as per the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which they have made a standing  agreement to do.

This week, international media has reported on the findings of a high school biology experiment in Denmark, devised by Grade 9 students who suspected the Wifi in their classrooms was causing concentration difficulties. They exposed half of their Cress seeds to wifi radiation. The wifi-exposed seeds did not grow, or were mutated or dead. The unexposed seeds were healthy and thriving.
As Olle Johansson, Karolinska Institute scientist points out, the “Nocebo Effect” obviously does not come into play when considering scientifically proven biological effects from RF on cress seeds, bacteria, molecules, cells, sperm, organs, mice, rats, etc. Consciously, they don’t care.

To insinuate that EHS is psychological in nature is misleading, offensive, dismissive and discriminatory. I request  that everyone involved have some civilized consideration when it comes to this topic. These are real people, and they deserve empathy and respect.

Karen Weiss
Victoria, BC

The Greater Victoria School District 61
A responsive and safe school environment is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards. Discrimination is not part of such an environment. As students learn by example, all members of the school community should model respectful conduct regardless of perceived differences and should refuse to tolerate any form of discrimination. This policy is meant to be congruent with the Canadian Human Rights Act, The British Columbia Human Rights Code, Greater Victoria School District Students’ Charter of Rights and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.
Discrimination means the subordination of groups or individuals resulting from a distinction, preference or exclusion based on the grounds of race, religion, colour, ethnicity, place of origin, language, age, disability, socio-economic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex, or any other difference.
Discrimination includes harassment, any negative or adverse conduct, comment, gesture or contact, and systemic barriers based on the above grounds. This conduct is harmful and can create a working or learning environment that is intimidating, humiliating, or uncomfortable. It includes any behaviour that is known, or reasonably should be known, to be offensive.
1. The Board of School Trustees is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free from all forms of discrimination.
2. The Board is also committed to creating and maintaining an environment which promotes respect for human rights, ensures equality of opportunity, and supports diversity. Modification to this document is not permitted without prior written consent from the Greater Victoria School District.
Policy 4303 Page 2 of 2
3. The Board does not and shall not tolerate any conduct of discrimination toward any individual or group.
4. This policy applies to all members of the school community including students, employees, trustees, parents, guardians, and volunteers.
• Policy 4302 Multiculturalism
• Policy 5131.0 Personal Safety & Security in the Greater Victoria
School District
• School Act Section 6 (1) (2) Duties of Students
• School Act Section 85 (2) Power & Capacity of the Board
• Greater Victoria School District Student Charter of Rights
• Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom
Greater Victoria School District
Approved: June 2003

POLICY 5131.0
The Board of Trustees recognizes that increasing violence in our community is a problem and acknowledges the Board's responsibility to contribute to the personal safety and security of the students and adults working in its schools.
It is expected that all individuals--adults and students--will treat each other with respect and courtesy and conduct themselves in a manner that will promote safety and security for all. Adult behaviour is governed by the School Act, District Policies and Regulations, and contractual agreements. Student behaviour is governed by the School Act and District Policies and Regulations.
It is the policy of the Greater Victoria School District to foster and maintain a safe working environment for all students, staff and parents through the implementation of effective measures to deal with violence in schools. These measures include the development of school-based student codes of conduct, the establishment of preventive procedures, the provision of appropriate early intervention procedures, and the administration of the School Act and School Board Policies with respect to student conduct as well as the application of any
Federal or Provincial legislation pertaining to the safety and security in our schools.
School Act, Section 6(1)(2) Duties of Students
School Act, Section 94 (1)(4)(8) Provision of Educational Program
School Act, Section 95 (3) Conduct
School Act, Section 103 (2) (c)(i)(ii)(iii) Power and Capacity of Board
School Act, Section 103 (2)(d) Power and Capacity of Board Modification to this document is not permitted without prior written consent from the Greater Victoria School District.
Policy 5131.0 Page 2 of 2
Regulation 4(1)(b)(c)(f) Duties of Teachers
Regulation 5(7)(g) Power and Duties of Administrative
Greater Victoria School District
Adopted: November 22, 1993

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