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For Parents

What is Bullying?

Manitoba’ s provincial legislation does not define bullying. Bullying is generally recognized as: repeated aggressive behaviour in a relationship in which the person bullying has more power than the person who is bullied. 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.

Manitoba’s Public Schools Act defines cyberbullying as: the use of the Internet or other communication technologies, including email or text messages, to support deliberate, repeated, hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm someone else.

Bullying and the Manitoba Law

In Manitoba, there is a formal legislation on bullying, the Safe School Section 47.1 of the Public Schools Act. Last updated in 2012, the legislation states that schools in the province should establish a Code of Conduct that deals with, among other issues, bullying prevention and response. The law pertains to all incidents of bullying that affect the school’s learning climate, those that happen in any school setting or activity. While the role of parents is not explicit under the Act, parents/guardians should be supportive of the school’s Code of Conduct and expect it to be enforced.

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 also apply to private schools.

Bullying Prevention

Parents/guardians have a responsibility to work with the adults in their child’s life (teachers, school principals, coaches, and group leaders) so that together, they can teach children and youth that bullying is wrong and unacceptable. Schools, (public or private) school boards, parents, teachers, and ministries are all responsible for creating safe and inclusive environments where everyone is treated with respect.

These are your rights as a parent under the current legislation:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to ask that the principal of each school establishes 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.
  • You have the right to expect that bullying behaviours will be reported by any employee of a school board and/or any person caring for one or more students during the prescribed school-approved activity to the school principals as soon as reasonably possible.
  • You have the right to be notified by the school principal as soon as reasonably possible if your child has been harmed as a result of any unacceptable conduct.

At the Ministry Level:

  • You have the right to expect the Ministry may develop clear procedures and regulations for how unacceptable conduct must be reported.

Your Child has been Victimized by Bullying

If your child confides that he or she has been bullied at school, or if you hear about if from school personnel or someone else, your rights as a parent under the current legislation are:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to be notified by the school principal, of:
  1. the nature of the bullying incidence that resulted in harm to the child;
  2. the nature of the harm; 
  3. the steps taken to protect the child’s safety, including the nature of any disciplinary measure taken in response to the bullying behaviour.

Students who are being bullied often do not want their parents/guardians to report it to the school out of fear or shame, but teachers and administration need to know about the bullying in order to stop it. Work with your child to determine which adults he or she trusts and feels most comfortable with, so that these adults can be involved in the solution.

Remember: approach the school in a calm, supportive manner despite the painful feelings of anger and worry you may feel. It is your job to protect your child, but it is the school’s role to maintain a safe learning environment for all students. It is the school’s responsibility to determine appropriate responses and consequences for the student who bullied and to maintain students’ privacy. Stay focused on solving the problem – preventing further incidents and enabling your child to feel safe and supported.

Your Child has Bullied

If you find out that your child has bullied at school, either through hearing about it from school personnel, your child, or someone else, your rights as a parent under the current legislation are:

At the Classroom/School Level:

You have the right to request that the name or any other identifying or personal information about your child is not disclosed to the parents or guardians of the child who will be notified in cases of bullying incidences.

Action Plan for parents whose child is being bullied, or has bullied others

  1. Give yourself time to process your emotions. Learning that your child was bullied – or bullied someone else – can be very painful. Listen carefully to the information and if necessary, say you need some time to come to terms with the information before moving forward.
  2. Respond caringly to your child. Take reports of bullying seriously. Always recognize your child’s courage in reporting or talking about the bullying. Explain to it is your responsibility to help solve the problem and stop the bullying, and this includes reporting the bullying to the school and working cooperatively with the school.  Reassure the child who was bullied that he or she has the right to be safe, to be protected by adults at school, and to be treated with respect by everyone. Help the child who bullied understand these rights. Emphasize his or her responsibility to treat others with respect.
  3. Visit www.prevnet.ca to gather more information about bullying.
  4. Before meeting with school personnel to create a safety plan for your child, or a positive response plan if your child has bullied, set short and long-term goals. It is important to identify what you are trying to accomplish and to know what to expect from the school based on its rights and responsibilities under the legislation.
  5. Follow up and monitor how the plan is working. Check in regularly with your child and with the school to ensure that the problem is being addressed and that there have not been any more incidents. Initially check in daily, and then gradually reduce the check-ins to every few days, every week, etc. Often it is necessary to monitor for several months.
  6. From the first time you become aware of the situation, keep an ongoing record of what happened, when it happened, what was done, and whether the plan of action was effective in stopping the bullying.

Remember, you are a role model for your children. Children watch what their parents do very closely, and are influenced by your actions as well as your words. If your children see you communicating respectfully and remaining constructive in the face of disagreements with others, they are more likely to behave the same way. 

Read more at What Parents Need to Know

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