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For Educators

What is Bullying?

The Northwest Territories’ provincial legislation defines bullying as: aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a student, (a) that occurs while at school, at a school-related activity or in another situation where the behaviour is likely to have a negative impact on the school climate; (b) where the behaviour is intended by the student to have the effect of, or the student ought to know that the behaviour would be likely to have the effect of, (i) causing harm, fear or distress to another individual, including physical, psychological, social or academic harm, harm to the individual’s reputation or harm to the individual’s property, or (ii) creating a negative learning environment for another individual, and (c) where the behaviour occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the student and the individual based on factors such as size, strength, intelligence, peer group power, race, colour, ancestry, nationality, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, family affiliation, political belief, political association or social condition; (intimidation). Bullying behaviour under this definition can include physical, verbal, electronic, written or other means. Electronic bullying is further defined to include bullying by any electronic means, including the following: (a) creating a web page or a blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person; (b) impersonating another person as the author of content or messages posted on the internet; (c) communicating material electronically to more than one individual or posting material on a web page that may be accessed by one or more individuals.

Bullying and the Northwest Territories Law

In Northwest Territories, Bill 12: An Act to Amend the Education Act established a definition of bullying and a Territorial School Code of Conduct, and required Divisional Education Councils or District Education Authorities to ensure that schools develop safe school plans.

This Bill amends the Education Act to require a Divisional Education Council or, if there is no Divisional Education Council for an education district, a District Education Authority, to ensure:

  • a safe schools plan is established for the schools in the education district;
  • the schools in the education district implement the plan;
  • the plan is made available to the public; and
  • the plan is reviewed at least annually, to ensure that it complies with the regulations.

A safe schools plan must include the following:

  • measures to address instances of bullying consistent with the regulations;
  • any other prescribed matters.

The advice of parents, school staff and students may be sought during the development of a safe schools plaan.

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 your rights as an educator:

  • You have the right to invite parents or legal guardians to review the Territorial School Code of Conduct for students that addresses bullying behaviour.
  • You have the right to encourage parents and legal guardians to:
  1. Help their children abide by the Territorial School Code of Conduct;
  2. Demonstrate positive behaviours that include showing 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:

  • 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.
  • The principal is expected to suspend a student if, in the opinion of the teacher or principal, the student’s conduct, whether or not the conduct occurs within the school building or during the school day, is injurious to the physical or mental well-being of others in the school. 

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, the legislation does not specifically outline a course of action.  The following recommendations are offered by PREVNet as a guideline in maintaining a safe learning environment.

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You are responsible for ensuring school principals or their delegates are told of the incident, so that they can investigate and address reports of bullying and cyberbullying, including notifying parents/guardians in a timely fashion.
  • Delegated school personnel are responsible for working with the parents/guardians and principal in developing and implementing a safety plan for a student who has been bullied, so that he/she can feel safe at school and going to and from school.
  • Delegated school personnel are responsible for checking in with the bullied student on a regular basis (e.g., daily, every few days, weekly, biweekly, monthly etc.) to ensure the bullying has stopped and the situation is resolved.
  • Delegated school personnel are responsible for consistently monitoring the student who bullied to ensure that the student is no longer perpetuating bullying behaviour.
  • You should expect there is a progressive discipline policy in place that guides the choice of just and effective responses to bullying. Progressive discipline means that initially children who bully receive consequences that help them learn from the experience and take responsibility for their actions, known as “formative consequences”. If bullying behaviour continues, consequences progress in severity. Consequences always take into account the unique characteristics of the situation which include:
  1. the developmental level of the involved students;
  2. the prior history of the involved students;
  3. exceptionalities of the involved students;
  4. the severity of the incident;
  5. the harm that was done to the student who was bullied. 

At the School District Level:

  • You should expect there is School District policy in place affirming the school board’s commitment to a safe and positive learning environment.
  • You should expect that there is a policy in place about sharing information with parents/guardians while maintaining the privacy of all students.
  • You should expect there are guidelines in place outlining the School District’s responsibility to become involved in a bullying situation when there is an enduring problem that has not been successfully resolved at the school level.
  • You should expect that there is a policy in place regarding removing a student from school if repeated bullying behaviours compromise a safe learning environment.
  • You should expect that the policy and role of the School District in decision making involving suspensions, removals, and expulsions is clearly explained to parents, as are the procedures for resolving issues.

At the Department Level:

  • You should expect there are resources available to provide the necessary supports to students who have been bullied, who have bullied others, and who have witnessed bullying.
  • You should expect that the role of the Department in decision making involving suspensions, removals, and expulsions is clearly explained to parents, as are the procedures for resolving issues.
  • You should expect that there are alterative programs in place for youth who were removed from their community schools, and plans are made for a supported re-entry when possible.

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.

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

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