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For Educators

What is Bullying?

Bullying is repeated direct or indirect behaviour, comments, acts or gestures, whether deliberate or not, in which the person bullying has more power than the person who is bullied. Bullying causes distress and injuries. It hurts, oppresses, intimidates or ostracizes. 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 Quebec Law

In Quebec, there is a formal legislation on bullying, Bill 56 Accepting Schools Act, 2012: An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters [PDF]

Bill 56 amends The Education Act which defines bullying as “any direct or indirect behaviour, comment, act or gesture, including through the use of social media, intended to injure, hurt, oppress, intimidate or ostracize, and includes cyber-bullying”. The Act states the duties and responsibilities of the school boards, public or private schools, and the Ministry to provide a healthy and secure learning environment which allows every student to develop his or her full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence. The law pertains to all incidents of bullying that affect the school’s learning climate, including incidents during school transportation or in electronic form.

Legal Requirements for Private Schools in Quebec

Under An Act Respecting Private Education private schools in Quebec must provide a healthy and secure learning environment that allows every student to develop to his or her full potential.

The Act contains extensive anti-bullying provisions, including that institutions must adopt an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan. The Act also provides a definition of violence that is consistent with public school definitions of bullying.

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. 

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • The school principal is designated to be the main person who will receive and promptly deal with all reports or complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.
  • The school principal is responsible for:
  1. adopting and implementing an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan at school that strictly follows the recommendations and guidelines provided in the legislation;
  2. reviewing, evaluating, and, if necessary, updating the plan annually;
  3. distributing this plan to the parents in a clear and accessible language.
  • Every school staff member is accountable for collaborating in the implementation of the anti-bullying and antiviolence plan.
  • Every school member has the right and responsibility to be informed of the school’s rules of conduct, safety and anti-violence measures, and of the procedures to be followed when an act of bullying or violence is observed.
  • The school principal is required to set up an anti-bullying and anti-violence team, as well as delegate one school staff member to coordinate its work.
  • The school principal is required to organize the school’s rules of conduct to be presented to the students during a civics session held every year.

At the School Board Level:

  • The school board is expected to provide a healthy and secure learning environment for every student – where each student can develop his or her full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence.
  • The school board is expected to approve the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan proposed by each school’s principal.
  • The school board is expected to make available to the school community, by September 30th of each year: an annual report on the number and nature of acts of bullying reported that year as well as the measures to be taken to improve the school’s results with respect to preventing and dealing with bullying – with a specific focus on enhancing the quality of the school learning environment.
  • The school board is expected to consult with the parents’ committees and establish clear procedures for the examination of complaints from parents.

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:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You are responsible for notifying the principal about the situation
  • The principal is responsible for notifying parents or guardians of the student who was victimized about the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm to their child.
  • The principal is responsible for informing the parents or guardians of the victimized student about the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan in response to the bullying incidents.
  • The principal is required to address the adults responsible for transportation of students, who are also expected to adopt measures to prevent and deal with any form of bullying or violence, and to reinforce their duty to report any incidents of bullying or violence during transportation.
  • The principal is responsible for notifying the parents or guardians of the child who bullied about the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm and the action that will be taken to prevent any further act of bullying or violence.
  • It is the responsibility of the school principal to take into consideration:
  1. the severity of the bullying incidents;
  2. any disciplinary measures taken on previous occasions;
  3. the best interest of the child when determining the consequences of engaging in bullying behaviours.
  • The principal is responsible for informing the parents or guardians of the reasons for the child’s suspension and of the remedial and re-integrative measures to be imposed on the child as a consequence of engaging in bullying behaviours.

At the School Board Level:

  • The school board is responsible for appointing a designated person at the school board to support parents or guardians to deal with their complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.
  • The school board is responsible for giving the parents or guardians an opportunity to have an open discussion before expelling the child who engaged in bullying behaviours from the school, or enrolling him or her in another school.

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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