What is Bullying?
The Northwest Territories’ legislation defines bullying as: aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a student, (a) that occurs while at school, at a school-related activity or in another situation where the behaviour is likely to have a negative impact on the school climate; (b) where the behaviour is intended by the student to have the effect of, or the student ought to know that the behaviour would be likely to have the effect of, (i) causing 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) creating a negative learning environment for another individual, and (c) where the behaviour occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the student and the individual based on factors such as size, strength, intelligence, peer group power, race, colour, ancestry, nationality, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, family affiliation, political belief, political association or social condition; (intimidation). Bullying behaviour under this definition can include physical, verbal, electronic, written or other means. Electronic bullying is further defined to include bullying by any electronic means, including the following: (a) creating a web page or a blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person; (b) impersonating another person as the author of content or messages posted on the internet; (c) communicating material electronically to more than one individual or posting material on a web page that may be accessed by one or more individuals.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined as bullying by any electronic means. It typically includes repeated and hostile or demeaning electronic communication by a student through the use of technology (e.g.: computers, other electronic devices, social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites, email, etc.) and is intended by the student to cause harm, dear or distress to the victim. The harm may be psychological, social or academic harm or it may be harm to the victim’s reputation. Cyberbullying includes behaviour by a student that assists or encourages in any way cyberbullying behaviour.
Bullying, Cyberbullying and the Northwest Territories Law
In the Northwest Territories, Bill 12: An Act to Amend the Education Act established a definition of bullying and a Territorial School Code of Conduct, and requires Divisional Education Councils or District Education Authorities to ensure that schools develop safe school plans.
This Bill amends the Education Act to require a Divisional Education Council or, if there is no Divisional Education Council for an education district, a District Education Authority, to ensure:
- a safe schools plan is established for the schools in the education district;
- the schools in the education district implement the plan;
- the plan is made available to the public; and
- the plan is reviewed at least annually, to ensure that it complies with the regulations.
A safe schools plan must include, among other things, measures to address instances of bullying and cyberbullying consistent with the regulations. The advice of parents, school staff and students may be sought during the development of a safe schools plan.
For more details on cyberbullying legislation, including federal legislation, please visit: Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying
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 and cyberbullying is wrong and unacceptable.
These are your rights as an educator:
- You have the right to invite parents or legal guardians to review the Territorial School Code of Conduct for students that addresses bullying and cyberbullying behaviour.
- You have the right to encourage parents and legal guardians to:
- Help their children abide by the Territorial School Code of Conduct;
- Demonstrate positive behaviours that include showing 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 or cyberbullying.
This is what is expected of you as an educator:
At the Classroom/School Level:
- You are expected to help implement the school’s bullying prevention, intervention and education strategies, which
- integrate evidence-based healthy relationship programming into the school curriculum and daily classroom activities;
- target the entire learning community, including students, parents, school staff and community members;
- address specific issued identified by individual schools;
- provide students with the skills and confidence to resolve conflict in a non-violent way; and
- teach students safe intervention and proactive reporting skills.
- You are expected to model high standards for safe, caring and responsible behaviours.
- 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.
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 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 ensuring school principals or their delegates are told of the incident, so that they can investigate and address reports of bullying and cyberbullying, including notifying parents/guardians in a timely fashion.
- Delegated school personnel are responsible for working with the parents/guardians and principal in developing and implementing a safety plan for a student who has been bullied, so that he/she can feel safe at school and going to and from school.
- Delegated school personnel are responsible for checking in with the bullied student on a regular basis (e.g., daily, every few days, weekly, biweekly, monthly etc.) to ensure the bullying or cyberbullying has stopped and the situation is resolved.
- Delegated school personnel are responsible for consistently monitoring the student who bullied or cyberbullied to ensure that the student is no longer perpetuating bullying behaviour.
- You should expect there to be a progressive discipline policy in place that guides the choice of just and effective responses to bullying and cyberbullying. Progressive discipline means that initially students who bully receive consequences that help them learn from the experience and take responsibility for their actions, known as “formative consequences”. If bullying behaviour continues, consequences progress in severity. Consequences always take into account the unique characteristics of the situation which include:
- the developmental level of the involved students;
- the prior history of the involved students;
- exceptionalities of the involved students;
- the severity of the incident;
- the harm that was done to the student who was bullied.
At the School District Level:
- You have the right to expect the safe schools plan to include policies and guidelines with respect to:
- the reporting, by students, parents, guardians and other persons, of incidents of bullying;
- the documentation, by the school and the education body, of incidents of bullying; and
- a timely and appropriate response by the school and the education body to incidents of bullying
At the Department Level:
- You should expect there to be resources available to provide the necessary supports to students who have been bullied or cyberbullied, who have bullied or cyberbullied others, and who have witnessed bullying.
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: www.prevnet.ca