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Bullying Prevention Policies in Canada: What Parents Should Know

By Irene Hong, Ph.D. Student, Queen’s University

Did you know that most provinces and territories have formal legislation or policy that addresses bullying? The exact nature of the policies or laws varies across the country, but many schools now provide clear, written guidelines on acceptable behaviours and outline steps on how bullying is handled when it takes place.

It can be tricky to find this information for your child’s school, so we’ve created a list of documents that may be helpful and where to find them: 

  • We recommend learning more about the bullying policies and legislation that are in place where you live here.

  • Refer to your child’s school handbook. Along with procedures and policies for how the school handles snow days or bus transportation, many school handbooks also include the Code of Conduct, which describes behaviours that schools will or will not tolerate, definitions of bullying, and other policies related directly to bullying. You may have even had to sign your child’s handbook at the beginning of the school year to demonstrate that you have read the information included in the handbook – so be sure to check back for relevant information.

  • Some schools have available on their school website Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan, which outlines how bullying plans will be implemented at the school. This plan can include surveys and committees dedicated to assessing and fostering positive school climates. Other useful documents or key words to look for include School Growth Plans or Progressive Discipline Strategies, as well as principles of prevention that list the factors schools may target in order to foster positive school climates, such as curricula targeting conflict resolution, collaboration strategies with parents and teachers, and staff education. These policies may have step-by-step procedures that staff and administration are expected to follow when they become aware of bullying incidents at school.  

  • If you don’t see these policies or documents on your child’s school website, try searching the school board’s website. Here, you may find your district school board’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policies, Administrative Procedures, or Safe and Accepting Schools Policies (depending on the province/territory you live in). If these documents are posted on the school board website, schools within the district need to follow the policies even if specific policies are not listed on the school website.

  • Reach out to your school principal. While official policies and procedures are very helpful in determining the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of everyone involved in bullying, it can be difficult to navigate all the information. Scheduling a meeting to ask your principal how they intend to address bullying when your child has bullied or been victimized is a way to start productive conversations to help resolve the issue.

Formal legislation or policies are important in providing students, parents, teachers, administration, and community members with clear guidelines and expectations for accountability when bullying occurs. However, they don’t necessarily ensure that what is written is put into practice. We encourage parents to learn about the bullying policies and procedures in place at school, so that they can talk with their children about the ways they can prevent bullying.

 

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