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For Educators

What is Bullying?

Newfoundland’s Safe and Caring Schools Policy defines bullying as a pattern of aggressive behaviour meant to hurt or cause discomfort to another person. Participating in bullying includes directly carrying out, assisting, or encouraging the behaviour in any way. The bully has more perceived power than the victim. Bullying can be physical, verbal, social, and/or electronic. Some bullying behaviours may be illegal (e.g.: an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada).

Bullying can focus on: disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexuality, race/ethnicity/religion, or other issues. Bullying behaviour typically involves repetition or the threat of repetition and is intended to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm.

Bullying and the Newfoundland Law

Newfoundland’s policy on bullying was updated by the Department of Education in 2013.  The Safe and Caring Schools Policy  defines bullying and includes a staff response protocol on how staff members should intervene, investigate, inform parents/guardians of, apply consequences for and document bullying incidents.

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

Legal requirements for Private Schools in Newfoundland

Private schools in Newfoundland are included within the Schools Act and, are not exempt from regulation by the Minister. The same responsibilities that public schools owe to maintain a safe and inclusive environment also apply to private 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. 

These are your rights as an educator:

  • You have the right to invite parents or legal guardians to participate in the development and support of the safe and caring schools policy and code of conduct.
  • You have the right to encourage parents and legal guardians to:
  1. assist their children to abide by the school’s code of conduct; and
  2. demonstrate positive behaviours that include appreciation and respect for diversity, and engaging in positive, non-violent conflict resolution.
  • You have the right to ask for parents or legal guardians to take an active interest in their child’s academic and social progress.
  • You have the right to encourage parents or legal guardians to communicate regularly with the school if there is a concern about bullying.
  • You have the right to expect your school to develop a Code of Conduct within the Department's Safe and Caring Schools policy and guidelines.
  • You have the right to expect resources and training initiatives from the Department of Education, supporting the implementation of the Safe and Caring Schools Policy. 

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • The school principal is required to identify a school team responsible for facilitating the Provincial Safe and Caring Schools Initiative that will:
  1. develop a safe and caring schools policy; and
  2. develop a safe and caring schools action plan that includes:

a) preventative initiatives, including the teaching of positive behaviours to all students;
b) guidelines for responding to traumatic events;
c) acknowledgement of individual students’ needs when providing positive behaviour supports, including early identification of students with exceptionalities;
d) the training of school personnel, including for effective classroom management.

  • You are expected to model high standards for safe, caring and responsible behaviours.
  • You are expected to take seriously, and to consistently respond to, bullying behaviours and complaints. 
  • You are expected to report inappropriate student behaviour monthly to the school district. 
  • You are expected to support safe and caring initiatives at the school and classroom level.
  • You are expected to maintain consistent expectations of positive behaviour for all students.
  • You are expected to collaborate with parents and legal guardians in promoting a safe and caring learning environment.
  • You are expected to make a concerted effort to connect safe and caring schools initiatives with curriculum outcomes. 

At the School Board Level:

  • Each school district is required to establish a Safe and Caring Schools Team that will:
  1. provide district-level leadership with respect to the Provincial Safe and Caring Schools Initiative;
  2. establish guidelines for implementing preventative and proactive school-wide practices promoting positive behaviours by all members of the school community;
  3. provide guidance and resources to schools as they develop safe and caring schools policies and implement school action plans;
  4. establish guidelines and procedures to assist school personnel in managing potentially violent situations.
  5. identify and facilitate the sharing of best practices and successful school initiative; and
  6. promote and provide professional learning opportunities at the school level to support the implementation of the Safe and Caring Schools Policy. 

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:

This is what is expected of you as an educator:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You are expected to follow the Safe and Caring Schools Bullying Intervention Protocol.
  • You are expected to always address and immediately respond to stop the behaviour, and follow up with a form of intervention that leads towards a positive behavioural change.
  • You are expected to ensure that the needs of the students who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour, are addressed by the school.
  • You are responsible for informing parents or legal guardians of the student who bullied about their child’s unacceptable behaviour as soon as reasonably possible, and give them the opportunity to collaborate on actions toward behavioural change.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that the consequences to student’s unacceptable behaviours are:
  1. appropriate to their stage of development and their special needs, if necessary;
  2. logical and connected to the behaviour;
  3. enforced in a timely fashion; and
  4. reflect the severity, frequency, and duration of the behaviour.
  • You are responsible for consulting with the parents when suspension is determined as an appropriate consequence to the student’s bullying behaviours, that:
  1. in-school suspension will be given consideration as an alternative to out-of-school suspension;
  2. a re-entry or transitional plan will be developed to ensure the student’s successful return to school; and
  3. re-entry plans will include interventions that enable positive behavioural change.

At the School District Level:

The school board is expected to ensure that the needs of the students who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour are addressed by the school district.

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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