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Minister of Education Announces New Measures to Prevent Bullying in Ontario

On November 27, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced five new measures to prevent and address bullying in Ontario schools to improve student safety and well-being.

PREVNet is a national network of leading researchers and organizations, working together to stop bullying in Canada. PREVNet has created Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools, a free, comprehensive, evidence-based resource for educators and school administrators. This resource comprises factsheets and tools to support ongoing bullying prevention, safe and accepting school efforts, and help meet this new call for action from the Minister.

Through education, research, training and policy change, PREVNet aims to stop the violence caused by bullying - so every child can grow up happy, healthy and safe.

Strategies to better understand, assess, and monitor students' experiences with bullying

Positive social relationships foster healthy interactions. Children involved in bullying (either as the student being victimized or the student engaged in bullying) have poor social relationships. PREVNet's Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools document can assist educators in assessing the extent of relationship problems at their school.

Positive school climate has a positive impact on such areas as mental health, substance use, healthy eating, conflict resolution and healthy relationships. Keep your school safe by assessing the prevalence of bullying and ensuring your interventions are working to promote healthy relationships and reduce bullying. Most bullying episodes are verbal and brief with more than half of children and youth not reporting them to school staff. This means there could be a lot of bullying going on in your school that you don’t know about. An environmental scan can help you learn about bullying at your school.

What is an environmental scan?

  • An assessment of the prevalence of bullying in your school.
  • A formalized method of finding out the extent and the nature of bullying problems in your school

Section 2 of our Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools document will guide you through how to conduct an environmental scan, including a Bullying Prevention Needs Assessment. It will allow you to identify strengths, gaps, and areas that need to be addressed.

Bullying Prevention Training for Educators

Bullying is a serious issue, as the bullying behaviour children experience within peer relationships at school will carry over to other relationships as they move through adolescence and into adulthood. Educators can learn how to intervene when necessary and encourage healthy relationship skills.

PREVNet provides comprehensive resources for educators, including a Newsletter Series and the Prevention and Intervention section of our Bullying Prevention document, designed to provide evidence-based strategies and practices to promote healthy relationships in the classroom and school community, helping teachers support the optimal development and well-being of students.

Teasing is common among children, with 96% of elementary school children reporting involvement. Teasing can be positive, because it shows closeness, affection, and familiarity, which may strengthen the relationship. But it can be hard to distinguish among teasing, aggression, and bullying. We have a resource to assist educators in learning more about the difference between teasing and bullying, and how bullying evolves throughout childhood. Download the Teasing Among Children: The Good & The Bad tip sheet.

Review School Reporting Practices on Bullying – Ensure your School has an Evidence-based Policy to Prevent Bullying

School boards and schools require bullying policies and plans. A bullying prevention school board policy and school plan is essential for coordinated and consistent efforts to prevent and address bullying.
A board policy establishes the framework for bullying prevention with:

  • A definition of the problem
  • a statement of importance
  • implementation and evaluation plans

Read more about how to implement a school plan in our Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools document. And, use the Bullying Prevention Plan and Procedures Implementation Checklist to make sure you have an evidence-based and comprehensive plan.

Each province and territory defines bullying differently and all have their own legislation or policies to address the issue. PREVNet has prepared summaries of the legislation in each province and territory, reviewed by senior law students. View the summary for Ontario here.

A review of the definition of bullying in ministry policies to ensure it reflects the realities of today

‘Bullying’ means aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a child or youth where.

A. they should know that the behaviour would be likely to,
     i. cause 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. create a negative environment at a school for another individual

B. There is a real or perceived power imbalance based on factors such as size, strength, age, intelligence, peer group power, economic status, social status, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, family circumstances, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, disability or the receipt of special education.

Bullying is defined as “a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.”

Bullying can be physical, verbal, social or electronic, which is the use of technology to intimidate and harass others. Check out our tool kit for more information and resources.

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