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For Educators

What is Bullying?

Manitoba’s Public Schools Act defines bullying as behaviour that is intended to cause, or should be known to cause, fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation or property. It is also behaviour that is intended to create, or should be known to create, a negative school environment for another person.  Bullying usually takes place in a context of a real or perceived power imbalance between people involved and is often repetitive behaviour, but does not have to be. Bullying can be direct or indirect, and a person can participate in bullying by intentionally assisting or encouraging bullying behaviour in any way. Bullying can take many forms: verbal, physical, social, or electronic (cyberbullying). It can focus on: disability; sexual orientation; gender identity; sexuality; race/ethnicity/religion; or other issues.

Cyberbullying is defined in the provincial legislation as engaging in the above behaviours through the use of the Internet or other communication technologies, including email, social media or text messages. 

Bullying and the Manitoba Law

In Manitoba, there is formal legislation on bullying found in section 47.1 of the Public Schools Act. Last updated in 2013, the legislation states that schools in the province must establish a Code of Conduct that deals with, among other issues, bullying prevention and response. The Code of Conduct must mandate respectful behaviour from both staff and students, and among other requirements, requires appropriate use of the Internet, social media and text messaging. The legislation includes a duty to report bullying and cyberbullying for employees of the school board, district, or division, and any person who has care or charge of a student in a school-approved activity. The law pertains to all incidents of bullying that affect the school’s learning climate, those that happen in any school setting or activity.

For more details on cyberbullying legislation, including federal legislation, please visit: Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying 

Legal Requirements for Private Schools in Manitoba

The Public Schools Act in Manitoba defines “school” as a public school, however, it also states that the Minister may make grants to a private school if specific conditions are met. Section 60(5) of the Act suggests that private schools in Manitoba are not exempt from regulation by the Minister and so the same responsibilities that public schools owe to maintain a safe and inclusive environment may also apply to private schools.

Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention

Educators share responsibility with parents and other adults in students’ lives to nurture the development of the social emotional skills that students need to engage in healthy relationships, and to teach students that bullying is wrong and unacceptable, including addressing training for teachers and other staff on bullying prevention.

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • The principal of each school is required to establish a Code of Conduct for students and school staff and an emergency response plan for the school, which are to be reviewed at least annually.
  • All employees of a school board and/or a person caring for one or more students during the prescribed school approved activity are required to report bullying behaviours, including cyberbullying, to the school principals as soon as reasonably possible.
  • The school principal is responsible for notifying the parents or legal guardians, as soon as reasonably possible, if their child has been harmed as a result of the unacceptable conduct.

At the Ministry Level:

  • The Ministry may develop clear procedures and regulations for reporting unacceptable conduct to the principal and to the parents.
  • You can expect the Ministry to address bullying prevention and anti-discrimination training for teachers and school staff. 

When a bullying or cyberbullying situation occurs

If a student discloses, or if you as an educator have witnessed that a student has been bullied or cyberbullied at school, or if you hear about it from school personnel or someone else, these are your responsibilities as an educator:

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • All employees of a school board and/or a person caring for one or more students during the prescribed school approved activity are required to report bullying and cyberbullying behaviours to the school principals as soon as reasonably possible.
  • The school principal is responsible for notifying parents or legal guardians of the students who was bullied:
  1. the nature of the bullying incidence that resulted in harm to their student;
  2. the nature of the harm; and
  3. the steps taken to protect the student’s safety, including the nature of any disciplinary measure taken in response to the bullying behaviour.
  • The school principal is expected to communicate with parents or legal guardians that the name of, or any other identifying/personal information about the student who bullied, is not to be disclosed to the parents or legal guardians of the student who was victimized by the bullying incidences.

And finally,

Remember to consider your own behaviour, despite any disagreements or hostility you may encounter. Students closely watch what the adults in their life do and are influenced as much by your actions as your words.  When students see you being respectful and empathic towards others, even when you disagree, they are more likely to behave the same way.

For more resources, please visit: http://www.prevnet.ca

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