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For Parents

What is Bullying?

The Northwest Territories’ 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.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is defined as bullying by any electronic means.  It typically includes repeated and hostile or demeaning electronic communication by a student through the use of technology (e.g.: computers, other electronic devices, social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites, email, etc.) and is intended by the student to cause harm, dear or distress to the victim. The harm may be psychological, social or academic harm or it may be harm to the victim’s reputation. Cyberbullying includes behaviour by a student that assists or encourages in any way cyberbullying behaviour.

Bullying,Cyberbullying 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, among other things, measures to address instances of bullying and cyberbullying consistent with the regulations.

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

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

Bullying and Cyberbullying 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 students that bullying and cyberbullying are wrong and unacceptable. Schools, (public and private) school boards, parents, teachers, and ministries are all responsible for creating safe environments where everyone is treated with respect.

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

What you should expect as a parent:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have a right to expect there to be a school code of conduct that is consistent with the safe school plan for your education district, and outlines the responsibilities of teachers and principals to prevent bullying and cyberbullying, from kindergarten through secondary school.
  • You have a right to expect that the school will implement bullying prevention, intervention and education strategies that
  1. integrate evidence-based healthy relationship programming into the school curriculum and daily classroom activities;
  2. target the entire learning community, including students, parents, school staff and community members;
  3. address specific issued identified by individual schools;
  4. provide students with the skills and confidence to resolve conflict in a non-violent way; and
  5. teach students safe intervention and proactive reporting skills.
  • You should expect all school personnel to have had training about bullying prevention in accordance with their roles and responsibilities.
  • You have a right to expect that your school has a Safe and Caring School Committee that includes the principal and a teach representative from the school and may include a parent representative whose child attends the school and/or a member of the community.

At the School District Level:

You have a right to expect that a Divisional Education Council or, if there is no Divisional Education Council for your education district, a District Education Authority, to ensure:

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

The safe schools plan must include policies and guidelines on reporting of bullying incidents, documentation of bullying incidents and appropriate and timely response by the school to bullying incidents. The plans must also include bullying prevention, intervention and education strategies.

At the Department Level:

  • You should expect there is to be adequate funding for resources and staff training

Your Child has been Victimized by Bullying or Cyberbullying

If your child confides that he or she has been bullied or cyberbullied at school, or if you hear about if from school personnel or someone else, this is what you should expect as a parent:

Students who are being bullied or cyberbullied 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.

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to expect your school policies and guidelines to be consistent with the safe schools plan of your education district
  • You should expect all students to participate in developmentally appropriate educational experiences throughout their school careers conveying the importance of respect in relationships, and teaching that bullying in all its forms is unacceptable.
  • You should expect teachers to consistently identify and respond to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying, and to report incidents to the school principal in accordance with school policy.
  • You should expect school principals or their delegates to report bullying incidents involving your child to you in a timely fashion, and to investigate reports of bullying or cyberbullying.
  • You should expect all adults who deal with students within a school context (administration, staff, bus drivers, event organizers) to have equal responsibility to report incidents of bullying or cyberbullying when it occurs on school property, during school associated events, or within the student body, so the school administration can respond appropriately.
  • You should expect to be invited to work on developing and implementing a safety plan for your child so that your child can feel safe at school and going to and from school.

At the School District Level:

You have the right to expect the safe schools plan to include policies and guidelines with respect to:

  1. the reporting, by students, parents, guardians and other persons, of incidents of bullying;
  2. the documentation, by the school and the education body, of incidents of bullying; and
  3. a timely and appropriate response by the school and the education body to incidents of bullying.

At the Department Level:

  • You should expect there to to be resources available to provide the necessary supports to students who have been bullied or cyberbullied.

Your Child has Bullied or Cyberbullied

If you find out that your child has bullied or cyberbullied at school, either through hearing about it from school personnel, your child, or someone else, this is what you should expect as a parent:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You should expect there to be adequate supervision and monitoring of students.
  • You should expect bullying or cyberbullying behaviours to be consistently addressed in a timely and appropriate fashion.
  • You should expect the consequences for bullying behaviour to be fair and effective in motivating children to refrain from future bullying behaviours.
  • You should expect progressive discipline to be applied consistently, so the student can develop the social understanding, attitudes, social skills and self-control skills necessary to engage in respectful relationships with fellow students. If your child continues to bully or cyberbully, you should expect that the disciplinary consequences to progress in severity.
  • You should expect that, when appropriate, consequences for bullying should initially be formative – that is, consequences designed to educate and positively motivate the offending student. Read here for examples of formative consequences.

At the School District Level:

You have the right to expect the safe schools plan to include policies and guidelines with respect to:

  1. the reporting, by students, parents, guardians and other persons, of incidents of bullying;
  2. the documentation, by the school and the education body, of incidents of bullying; and
  3. a timely and appropriate response by the school and the education body to incidents of bullying.

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

  1. Give yourself time to process your emotions. Learning that your child was bullied or cyberbullied – or bullied or cyberbullied 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 and cyberbullying seriously. Always recognize your child’s courage in reporting or talking about the bullying. Explain to your child that it is your responsibility to help solve the problem and stop the bullying or cyberbullying, and this includes reporting the bullying to the school and working cooperatively with the school.  Reassure the student who was bullied or cyberbullied 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 or cyberbullied understand these rights. Emphasize his or her responsibility to treat others with respect.
  3. Visit www.prevnet.ca to gather more information about bullying and cyberbullying.
  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 the school's 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 or cyberbullying.

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.  

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) has established initiatives with the goal of putting a stop to bullying in schools, the Northwest Territories communities and online. A campaign has been launched to create awareness that bullying is not acceptable and to acknowledge that more students and people are standing up to bullying. For more information parents and students should visit www.stopbullyingnwt.ca

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