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For Educators

What is Bullying?

In November 2012, Newfoundland began a consultative process to strengthen the way the education system addresses bullying. In the document entitled, Policies, Protocols and Legislation Governing Student Behaviour, the following draft definition was offered: (http://www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/consultations/question_1.pdf)

Bullying is typically repeated behaviour that is intended to cause harm to another person(s).  A person participates in bullying if he or she directly carries out, assists, or encourages the behaviour in any way.  Those who engage in bullying behaviour are perceived to be in a position of power.  Bullying can be physical, verbal, social, or electronic.  It can focus on: disability; sexual orientation; gender identity; sexuality; race/ethnicity/religion; or other issues.

Bullying and the Newfoundland Law

In Newfoundland, a policy on bullying was put forth by the Department of Education in 2006. The Safe and Caring Schools Policy [PDF] does not provide a legal definition of bullying but does pertain to all incidents of bullying that happen in any school setting or activity that affect the school’s learning climate.

Legal requirements for Private Schools in Newfoundland

Private schools in Newfoundland are included within the Schools Act and, as defined, are not exempt from regulation by the Minister. The same responsibilities that public schools owe to maintain a safe and inclusive environment also apply to private schools.

Bullying 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. 

These are you rights as an educator:

  • You have the right to invite parents or legal guardians to participate in the development and support of the safe and caring schools policy and code of conduct.
  • You have the right to encourage parents and legal guardians to:
  1. assist their children to abide by the school’s code of conduct;
  2. demonstrate positive behaviours that include appreciation and respect for diversity, and engaging in positive, non-violent conflict resolution.
  • You have the right to ask for parents or legal guardians to take an active interest in their child’s academic and social progress.
  • You have the right to encourage parents or legal guardians to communicate regularly with the school if there is a concern about bullying.

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • The school principals are required to identify a school team responsible for facilitating the Provincial Safe and Caring Schools Initiative that will:
  1. develop a safe and caring schools policy;
  2. develop a safe and caring schools action plan that includes:
  • a) preventative initiatives, including the teaching of positive behaviours to all students;
  • b) guidelines for responding to traumatic events;
  • c) acknowledgement of individual students’ needs when providing positive behaviour supports, including early identification of students with exceptionalities;
  • d) the training of school personnel, including for effective classroom management.
  • You are expected to model high standards for safe, caring and responsible behaviours.
  • You are expected to maintain consistent expectations of positive behaviour for all students.
  • You are expected to collaborate with parents and legal guardians in promoting a safe and caring learning environment.

At the School Board Level:

  • Each school district is required to establish a Safe and Caring Schools Team that will:
  1. provide district-level leadership with respect to the Provincial Safe and Caring Schools Initiative;
  2. establish guidelines for implementing preventative and proactive school-wide practices promoting positive behaviours by all members of the school community;
  3. provide guidance and resources to schools as they develop safe and caring schools policies and implement school action plans;
  4. establish guidelines and procedures to assist school personnel in managing potentially violent situations.

When a bullying situation occurs

If a student discloses, or if you as an educator have witnessed that a student has been bullied 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:

  • You are expected to always address and immediately respond to stop the behaviour, and follow up with a form of intervention that leads towards a positive behavioural change.
  • You are expected to ensure that the needs of the children who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour, are addressed by the school.
  • You are responsible for informing parents or legal guardians of the child who bullied about their child’s unacceptable behaviour and give them the opportunity to collaborate on actions toward behavioural change.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that the consequences to children’s unacceptable behaviours are:
  1. appropriate to their stage of development and their special needs, if necessary;
  2. logical and connected to the behaviour;
  3. enforced in a timely fashion; and
  4. reflect the severity, frequency, and duration of the behaviour.
  • You are responsible for consulting with the parents when suspension is determined as an appropriate consequence to the child’s bullying behaviours, that:
  1. in-school suspension will be given consideration as an alternative to out-of-school suspension;
  2. a re-entry or transitional plan will be developed to ensure the child’s successful return to school;
  3. re-entry plans will include interventions that enable positive behavioural change.

At the School Board Level:

The school board is expected to ensure that the needs of the children who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour are addressed by the school district.

And finally,

Remember to consider your own behaviour, despite any disagreements or hostility you may encounter. Children and youth 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.

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