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For Parents

What is Bullying?

Quebec’s provincial legislation defines bullying as: 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, 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 An Act to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools.

It 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

The law states that the main purpose of adopting an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan is to “prevent and deal with all forms of bullying and violence targeting a student, a teacher or any other staff member”. Schools are required to create safe environments where everyone feels safe and included and is treated with respect.

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

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to ask for the school principal to be the main person to receive and promptly deal with all reports or complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.
  • You have the right to ensure the school principal adopts and implements an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan at school that strictly follows the recommendations and guidelines provided in the legislation and that the principal reviews, evaluates, and updates the plan annually and distributes this plan to the parents in a clear and accessible language.
  • You have the right to hold every school staff member accountable for collaborating in the implementation of the anti-bullying and antiviolence plan.
  • You have the right to ensure every school staff member is informed of 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.
  • You have the right to request the school principal set up an anti-bullying and anti-violence team, as well as delegate one school staff member to coordinate its work.
  • You have the right to request the school’s rules of conduct be presented to the students during a civics session held every year.

At the School Board Level:

  • You have the right to expect the school board will take responsibility for providing a healthy and secure learning environment for every student – an environment where students can develop their full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence.
  • You have the right to expect the school board to approve the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan proposed by each school’s principal.
  • You have the right to ask the school board, by December 31st of each year, for:
  1. an annual report on the number and nature of acts of bullying reported that year;
  2. the measures 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.
  • You have the right to expect the school board to consult with the parents’ committees and establish clear procedures for the examination of complaints from parents.

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 be promptly notified of the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm to your child.
  • You have the right to be informed of the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan in response to the bullying incidents.
  • You have the right to remind the school principals that the adults responsible for transportation of students 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.

At the School Board Level:

  • You have the right to request assistance from a person designated by the school board to deal with parents’ complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.

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 notified of the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm to the bullied child and the action that will be taken to prevent any further act of bullying or violence.
  • You have the right to ask the school principal to take into consideration the severity of the bullying incidents and any disciplinary measures taken on previous occasions, as well as the best interest of the child when determining the consequences of engaging in bullying behaviours.
  • You have the right to be informed of the reasons for the child’s suspension and of the remedial and re-integration measures to be imposed on the child as a consequence of engaging in bullying behaviours.

At the School Board Level:

  • You have the right to request that the school board give the parents/guardians an opportunity to have an open discussion before expelling your child from the school, or enrolling him or her in another school.

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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