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For Parents

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. Therefore, the same responsibilities that public schools owe to maintain a safe and inclusive environment also apply to private schools.

Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention

Parents/guardians have a responsibility to work with the adults in their child’s life (teachers, school principals, coaches, and group leaders) so that together, they can teach students that bullying and cyberbullying are wrong and unacceptable. Schools, (public or private) school boards, parents, teachers, community members and ministries are all responsible for creating safe and inclusive environments where everyone is treated with respect.

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

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to expect the school to develop a Code of Conduct in line with provincial policy and guidelines, and ensure its ongoing implementation.
  • You have the right to expect the school to report inappropriate behaviour to the district office on a monthly basis.
  • You have the right to ask that the school principal identifies a school team responsible for facilitating the Provincial Safe and Caring Schools Initiative that will develop a safe and caring schools policy and will develop a safe and caring school action plan that includes:
  1. preventative teaching of positive behaviours to all students;
  2. guidelines for responding to traumatic events;
  3. ways to recognize needs of individual students when providing positive behaviour supports, including early identification of students with exceptionalities; and
  4. training of school personnel, including for effective classroom management.
  • You have the right to ask that all teachers and school staff do the following:
  1. model high standards for safe, caring and responsible behaviours;
  2. maintain consistent expectations of positive behaviour for all students; and
  3. collaborate with parents in promoting a safe and caring learning environment.
  • You have the right to expect schools to participate in Violence Prevention Week activities, sponsored by the Department of Education.

At the School District Level:

  • You have the right to expect your school district to identify and facilitate the sharing of successful school initiatives and best practices, and to provide professional learning opportunities at the school level.
  • You have the right to expect your school district to develop and regularly review protocols or practices that guide the implementation of the Safe and Caring Schools Policy.
  • You have the right to ask that your school district establishes 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 support and resources to schools as they develop safe and caring schools policies and implement school action plans; and
  4. establish guidelines and procedures to assist school personnel in managing potentially violent situations.

This is what is expected of parents, under the current policy:

  • You are expected to participate in the development of, and support the safe and caring schools policy and code of conduct.
  • You are expected to encourage and assist your children to abide by the school’s code of conduct, and demonstrate positive behaviours that include demonstrating appreciation and respect for diversity, and engaging in positive, non-violent conflict resolution.
  • You are expected to take an active interest in your children’s academic and social progress.
  • You are expected to communicate regularly with the school.

At the Department of Education Level:

  • You have the right to expect the Department to establish policy and direction for safe and caring schools, and to show leadership by emphasizing these priorities in future district strategic plans and school development plans.
  • You have the right to expect the Department to include a safe and caring schools focus within all other policies, resources, and training initiatives, and across divisions of the Department and school districts.
  • You have the right to expect the promotion of professional learning opportunities and policy guidance for the district and school levels.
  • You have the right to expect the Department to establish and monitor a systematic process for the collection, analysis, and reporting of data related to policy implementation and inappropriate student behaviour.

Your Child has been Victimized by Bullying or Cyberbullying

If you find out that your child has bullied or cyberbullied at school, either through hearing about it from school personnel, your child, or someone else, your rights as a parent under the current policy are:

At the Classroom/School Level:

  • You have the right to expect that all reports of bullying behaviour will be taken seriously by school staff members.
  • You have the right to be informed of a bullying incident as quickly as possible.
  • You have the right to expect that schools will follow the Bullying Intervention Protocol outlined in the Safe & Caring Schools Policy when a bullying incident occurs on school property, during a school activity off school property, and when a bullying behaviour negatively affects the school environment.
  • You have the right to ask that such behaviour is always addressed by the school, meaning that school personnel immediately respond to stop the behaviour and follow up with a form of intervention that encourages a positive behavioural change.
  • You have the right to ask that the needs of the students who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour are addressed by the school, and that school staff members will follow up with students on a regular basis.

At the School District Level:

  • You have the right to ask that such behaviour is always addressed by the school district, that there is an immediate response to stop the behaviour, followed by an intervention that encourages a positive behavioural change.
  • You have the right to ask that the needs of the students who may be adversely affected by the unacceptable behaviour are addressed by the school district.

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 or Cyberbullied

If you find out that your child has bullied or cyberbullied 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 informed of your child’s unacceptable behaviour as quickly as possible and should be given the opportunity to collaborate on actions towards behavioural change.
  • You have the right to expect that schools will follow the Bullying Intervention Protocol outlined in the Safe & Caring Schools Policy when a bullying incident occurs on school property, during a school activity off school property, and when a bullying behaviour negatively affects the school environment. 
  • You have the right to expect disciplinary measures and interventions to be identified in the school's Code of Conduct. 
  • You have the right to ask that the consequences for your child’s unacceptable behaviours are:
  1. appropriate to his/her stage of development and special needs, if necessary;
  2. logical and connected to the behaviour; and
  3. reflecting of the severity, frequency, and duration of the behaviour; and
  4. timely.
  • You have the right to ask that, if suspension is determined as an appropriate consequence for your child’s bullying behaviours:
  1. in-school suspension will be given consideration as an alternative to out-of-school suspension;
  2. a re-entry or transition plan will be developed to ensure your child’s successful return to school; and
  3. re-entry plans will include interventions that enable positive behavioural change.

Action Plan for parents whose child is being bullied or cyberbullied, or has bullied or cyberbullied others

  1. Give yourself time to process your emotions. Learning that your child was bullied or cyberbullied – or bullied or cyberbullied 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 your child that 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 student 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 student who bullied understand their 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 the school's 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.

 

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