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For Educators

What is Bullying?

New Brunswick’s provincial legislation does not explicitly defines bullying or cyberbullying.

However in its annual report, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development makes reference to a common definition of bullying: bullying is a learned behaviour intended to cause or should be known to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation or other harm to an individual or a group of individuals. There is a power imbalance, real or perceived, between the persons involved that affects the relationships within the positive learning environment of the school. It has a high likelihood of being repeated or has occurred multiple times. Bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal and non-verbal, social or electronic (cyber). It also includes assisting or encouraging the behaviour in any way.

Bullying and the New Brunswick Law

In New Brunswick, Policy 703: Positive Learning and Working Environment, revised in 2013, states the rights and responsibilities of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, school districts, and schools for creating a positive learning and working environment in the public education system. The policy pertains to all incidents of bullying or cyberbullying that affect the school’s learning climate, whether it’s on or off school property (i.e. on the school bus), face-to-face or electronic, and apply to all participants in the public school system.

The Education Act,was amended in 2012. The amendments include, among other things, the development and implementation of a positive learning and working environment plan, which addresses bullying and cyberbullying, and mandated reporting from school principals to superintendents of bullying and cyberbullying incidents.

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

Legal Requirements for Private Schools in New Brunswick

Under The Education Act private schools in New Brunswick are not included in the definition of “school”. There is no formal legislation that deals specifically with private or independent schools, nor any requirement that private schools adhere to the anti-bullying provisions of public schools.

Bullying and Cyberbullying 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.  Public schools, school districts, school bus personnel, organizers of school sponsored events, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development are all responsible for creating a safe, orderly, productive and inclusive environment where everyone is treated with respect.

These are your rights as an educator:

  • You have the right to talk with parents or legal guardians about how student’s social skills, self-discipline, empathy, compassion and ethics are learned through life, and that parents and legal guardians play a role in transmitting these values to students thorough instruction and by example.
  • You have the right to communicate to parent/ guardians/other school visitors that fostering positive learning and working environments in schools and the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan requires them to refrain from inappropriate behaviours when interacting with school personnel.

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You are expected to ensure that every student in the public school system has the right to work and to learn in a safe, orderly, productive, respectful and harassment-free environment.
  • The school principal is required to prepare the School Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan that includes:
  1. clear roles and responsibilities for staff, students, teachers, parents and volunteers;
  2. a School Code of Conduct;
  3. consequences for inappropriate behaviours exhibited by anyone in the school environment;
  4. direction for managing disruptive behaviours that are (a) minor in nature, but frequent, and b) substantial and persistent; and
  5. strategies aimed at preventing and resolving misunderstandings or disagreements between school personnel and parents.
  • The school principal is required to:
  1. implement the School Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan in collaboration with students, teachers, and the Parent School Support Committee, and annually report the results to their superintendents; and
  2.  be responsible for their school’s overall effectiveness in developing and implementing the plan.
  • You are expected to understand that if some students with exceptionalities behave in challenging ways that are beyond the students’ control or understanding, such students may not be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You are expected to understand that if inappropriate behaviours exhibited by students with exceptionalities are clearly not related to their exceptionalities, such students may be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.

At the School Board Level:

  • The superintendents are required to assist in the development of the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan – to foster positive learning and working environments in schools and to manage inappropriate behaviours by students.
  • The school districts are required to provide support to each school’s Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan through various means, including dissemination of resource materials and development of provincial and district protocols.

At the Ministry Level:

  • The Department of Education is responsible for providing support to each school’s Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan through various means, including dissemination of resource materials and development of provincial and district protocols.

When a bullying or cyberbullying situation occurs

If a student discloses, or if you as an educator have witnessed that a student has been bullied or cyberbullied 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 school principal, and keeping an accurate, written record of:
  1. notable incidents of bullying or cyberbullying behaviours;
  2. the manner in which incidents are handled; and
  3. subsequent interventions and progress.
  • The school principals are required to report all incidences of bullying and cyberbullying to the superintendents – including bullying or cyberbullying incidents that happen outside of school hours and off school property - to the extent they affect the school climate.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that a student whose bullying or cyberbullying behaviours poses an immediate threat to the safety of other students will be subject to immediate risk reducing interventions, and potentially alternative educational arrangements – if deemed necessary and approved by the Superintendent or the Director of Education.
  • The school principals and other school personnel are responsible for making parents or legal guardians aware of problems involving the child and encouraging their involvement in the development of an intervention plan, as appropriate.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that any information concerning a student’s need for support, and the support that he or she receives, is provided to any person who works with the student so assistance can be delivered effectively.
  • You have the right to enforce that a student whose bullying behaviours pose an immediate threat to the safety of other students or him/herself may be removed from school property, and will be permitted to return to school following an assessment of safety – using the Violent Threat and Risk Assessment Protocols of the Ministry.
  • You have the right to consult with the parents or legal guardians of a student regarding the agreed upon plan of intervention for such students, and inform them of the constraints on the education system in providing service for such student and the negative consequences for such student’s progress and development if parental support is not given to the school’s plan of intervention.
  • You have the right to communicate to parents or legal guardians that in extreme cases when parental support is not forthcoming, the superintendent can make a referral to the Department of Social Development where an investigation may follow under the Family Services Act.

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

  • You are expected to inform parents or legal guardians of the problem involving the student and encourage them to take part in the development of an intervention plan.
  • You are expected to inform the parents or legal guardians that discipline will be corrective, aimed at helping students learn appropriate, self-regulatory, productive behaviours in support of the maintenance of a positive learning and working environment.
  • You are expected to inform the parents or legal guardians that other educators who work with the student will receive information concerning the monitoring and support that he or she needs to ensure there is no more bullying or cyberbullying behaviour.
  • You are expected to understand that if some students with exceptionalities behave in challenging ways that are beyond the students’ control or understanding, such students may not be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You are expected to understand that if inappropriate behaviours exhibited by students with exceptionalities are clearly not related to their exceptionalities, such students may be subject to the typical consequences established by the school.
  • You are expected to invite parents or legal guardians to the case conference at which alternative educational arrangements for the student may be determined and approved.
  • You are expected to inform the parents or legal guardians that if their child has been identified as a potential risk to him/herself, to others, or to school property, the nature of this risk will be communicated as soon as possible, on a need-to-know basis, to those who work with the student.

At the School Board Level:

  • The Superintendents are required to report annually to the District Education Council with respect to the effectiveness of the District Positive Learning and Working Environment Plan.
  • The Superintendents are required to ensure that all school personnel are provided with adequate training, as appropriate for their responsibilities, to recognize signs that a student is in difficulty – with caution not to stereotype students.

At the Ministry Level:

  • The Ministry is required to publish an annual report on bullying in the New Brunswick education system.

And finally,

Remember to consider your own behaviour, despite any disagreements or hostility you may encounter. Students 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.

For more resources, please visit: PREVNet.ca

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