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For Parents

What is Bullying?

New Brunswick’s provincial legislation defines bullying 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.

Bullying and the New Brunswick Law

In New Brunswick, Policy 703 Positive Learning and Working Environment, [PDF] revised in 2009, states the rights and responsibilities of the Department of Education, school districts, and schools and provides a framework for creating a positive learning and working environment. The policy pertains to all incidents of bullying that affect the school’s learning climate, whether it’s on or off school property (i.e. on the school bus), face-to-face or electronic.

The Education Act, [PDF] (.) was amended in 2012. The amendments include the development and implementation of a positive learning and working environment plan, which may include the development of strategies to promote inclusive school environments.

Legal Requirements for Private Schools in New Brunswick

Under The Education Act private schools in New Brunswick are not included in the definition of “school”. There is no formal legislation that deals specifically with private or independent schools, nor any requirement that private schools adhere to the anti-bullying provisions of public 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. Public schools, school districts, school bus personnel, organizers of school sponsored events, and the Department of Education are all responsible for creating a safe, orderly, productive and inclusive environment where everyone is treated with respect.

This is what is expected of parents, under the current legislation:

  • You are expected to acknowledge that children’s social skills, self-discipline, empathy, compassion and ethics are learned through life, and that parents play a role in transmitting these values to children through instruction and by example.
  • You are expected to acknowledge that, in order to foster positive learning and working environments in schools, the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan requires parents and visitors to refrain from inappropriate behaviours when interacting with school personnel.

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

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to remind the school that every student in the public school system is entitled to work and learn in a safe, orderly, productive, respectful and harassment-free environment.
  • You have the right to expect that the school principal prepares the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan that includes the following:
  1. clear roles and responsibilities for staff, students, parents and volunteers;
  2. a School Code of Conduct;
  3. consequences for inappropriate behaviours exhibited by anyone in the school environment;
  4. direction for managing disruptive behaviours that are minor in nature, but frequent, or substantial and persistent;
  5. strategies aimed at preventing and resolving misunderstandings or disagreements between school personnel and parents.
  • You have the right to expect the school principal to implement the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan in collaboration with students, teachers, and parents, and annually to report the results to their superintendents, and to be responsible for their school’s overall effectiveness in developing and implementing the plan.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that if some students with exceptionalities behave in challenging ways that are beyond the students’ control or understanding, such students may not be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that if inappropriate behaviours exhibited by students with exceptionalities are clearly not related to the exceptionality, such students may be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.

At the School Board Level:

  • You have the right to ask the superintendents to assist in the development of the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan – to foster positive learning and working environments in schools, and to manage inappropriate behaviours by students.
  • You have the right to ask the school districts to provide support to each school’s District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan through various means, including dissemination of resource materials and development of provincial and district protocols.

At the Ministry Level:

  • You have the right to ask for the Department of Education to provide support to each school’s District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan through various means, including resource materials and development of provincial and district protocols.
  • You have the right to receive the annual report on bullying in the New Brunswick public education system by the Minister, which shall be provided before the Legislative Assembly during the course of the regular session of the Legislature that follows the year for which the report is made.

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 acknowledge that school principals are mandated to report all incidences of bullying to the superintendents – including bullying incidents that happen outside of school hours and off school property to the extent they affect the school climate.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that a student whose bullying behaviours poses an immediate threat to the safety of other children will be subject to immediate risk reducing interventions, and potentially alternative educational arrangements – if deemed necessary and approved by the Superintendent or the Director of Education.
  • You have the right to expect school personnel to make you aware of problems involving your child and to encourage your involvement in the development of an intervention plan, as appropriate.
  • You have the right to expect that teachers and other staff, such as bus drivers, keep an accurate, written record of: notable incidents of bullying behaviours; the manner in which incidents are handled; and subsequent interventions and progress.
  • You have the right to ask that any information concerning the support received by a student is provided to any person who works with the student so that help can be delivered effectively.

At the School Board Level:

  • You have the right to ask the District Education Councils to make information on the number of reported bullying incidents available to parents/guardians annually.
  • You have the right to expect that the Superintendents ensure that all school personnel are provided with adequate training, as appropriate for their responsibilities, to recognize signs that a student is in difficulty – with caution not to stereotype students.

At the Ministry Level:

  • You have the right to ask the Ministry to make information about the number of reported bullying incidents available annually to parents.

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 be invited to the case conference at which alternative educational arrangements for the children will be determined and approved.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that discipline will be corrective, aimed at helping students learn appropriate, self-regulatory, productive behaviours in support of the maintenance of a positive learning and working environment.
  • You have the right to be informed of problems involving your child by school personnel and to be encouraged to take part in the development of an intervention plan.
  • You have the right to expect that other personnel who work with your child will receive information concerning the monitoring and support your child needs to ensure there is no more bullying behaviour.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that if some students with exceptionalities behave in challenging ways that are beyond the students’ control or understanding, such students may not be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You have the right to acknowledge that if inappropriate behaviours exhibited by students with exceptionalities are clearly not related to the exceptionality, such students may be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You have the right to know that if a student is identified to be a potential risk to him/herself, to others, or to school property, the nature of this risk will be communicated as soon as possible, on a need-to-know basis, to those who work with the student.

This is what is expected of parents, under the current legislation:

  • You are expected to acknowledge that a student whose bullying behaviour poses an immediate threat to the safety of other children, or to him/herself, may be removed from school property, and will be permitted to return to school following an assessment of safety – using the Violent Threat and Risk Assessment Protocols.
  • You are expected to support the agreed upon plan of intervention for these children, and be informed of the constraints on the education system in providing service to these children and the consequences for these children’s progress and development if parental support is not given.
  • You are expected to acknowledge that in extreme cases where parental support is not forthcoming, the superintendent can make a referral to the Department of Social Development where an investigation may follow under the Family Services Act.

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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