What is Bullying?
Bullying is repeated direct or indirect behaviour, comments, acts or gestures, whether deliberate or not, in which the person bullying has more power than the person who is bullied. The behaviour causes distress and injuries, hurts, oppresses, intimidates or ostracizes. Bullying can take many forms: verbal, physical, social, or electronic (cyberbullying). It can focus on: disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexuality, race/ethnicity/religion, or other issues.
Bullying and the Quebec Law
The Quebec legislature passed Bill 56: An Act to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools in 2012, amending the Education Act and the Act respecting private education to formally address bullying. The amendment lays out the duties and responsibilities of the school boards, public and private schools, and the Ministry to provide a healthy and secure learning environment which allows every student to develop his or her full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence.
For more details on cyberbullying legislation, including federal legislation, please visit: Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying
Legal Requirements for Private Schools in Quebec
Under An Act respecting private education private schools in Quebec must provide a healthy and secure learning environment that allows every student to develop to his or her full potential.
The Act contains extensive anti-bullying provisions, including that institutions must adopt an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan meeting the same standards as those required by public schools. The Act also provides a definition of bullying that is consistent with public school’s definition of bullying.
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. This includes requiring students to take part in anti-bullying and anti-violence activities held by their school.
This is what is expected of you as an educator:
At the Classroom/School Level:
- The school principal is designated to be the main person who will receive and promptly deal with all reports or complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.
- The school principal is responsible for:
- adopting and implementing an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan at school that strictly follows all elements provided in the legislation;
- reviewing, evaluating, and, if necessary, updating the plan annually; and
- distributing this plan to the parents in a clear and accessible language.
- Every school staff member is accountable for collaborating in the implementation of the anti-bullying and antiviolence plan.
- You have the right to know that complaints of bullying will be taken seriously.
- Every school member has the right and responsibility to be informed of the school’s rules of conduct, safety and anti-violence measures, and of the procedures to be followed when an act of bullying or violence is observed.
- The school principal is required to set up an anti-bullying and anti-violence team, as well as delegate one school staff member to coordinate its work.
- The school principal is required to organize the school’s rules of conduct to be presented to the students during a civics session held every year.
- You have the right to expect the school's governing board to annually evaluate the results achieved by the school with respect to preventing and dealing with bullying, and that a report on the evaluation will be distributed to all school staff.
At the School Board Level:
- The school board is expected to provide a healthy and secure learning environment for every student – where each student can develop his or her full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence.
- The school board is expected to approve the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan proposed by each school’s principal, and to support the principal's anti-bullying efforts.
- The school board is expected to make available to the school community, by September 30th of each year: an annual report on the number and nature of acts of bullying reported that year as well as the measures to be taken to improve the school’s results with respect to preventing and dealing with bullying – with a specific focus on enhancing the quality of the school learning environment.
- The school board is expected to consult with the parents’ committees and establish clear procedures for the examination of complaints from parents.
- The school board is expected to enter into an agreement with the police force in the area to determine how police officers will intervene when an act of bullying is reported to them, and to establish the means of collaboration for prevention and investigation purposes.
- The school board is expected to enter into an agreement with another health/social services organization, including community organizations, to provide services to students after an act of bullying is reported.
- The school board is expected to send a copy of the above agreements to the school’s principal.
- The school board is expected to appoint a Student Ombudsman to hear and report on complaints concerning acts of bullying, as well as to develop recommendations for preventative measures.
At the Ministry Level:
- You have the right to expect, where not provided for at the school board level, that the Minister of Education and Public Safety will jointly determine how police officers will intervene when an act of bullying is reported, and to establish the means of collaboration for prevention and investigation purposes.
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 cyberbullied, 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 principal about the situation.
- The principal is responsible for notifying parents or guardians of the student who was victimized about the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm to their child.
- The principal is responsible for informing the parents or guardians of the victimized student about the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan in response to the bullying incidents.
- The principal is required to address the adults responsible for transportation of students, who are also expected to adopt measures to prevent and deal with any form of bullying or violence, and to reinforce their duty to report any incidents of bullying or violence during transportation.
- The principal is responsible for notifying the parents or guardians of the student who bullied about the form and nature of the bullying activity that resulted in harm and the action that will be taken to prevent any further act of bullying or violence.
- It is the responsibility of the school principal to take into consideration:
- the severity of the bullying incidents;
- any disciplinary measures taken on previous occasions; and
- the best interest of the student when determining the consequences of engaging in bullying behaviours.
- The principal is responsible for informing the parents or guardians of the reasons for the student’s suspension and of the remedial and re-integrative measures to be imposed on the student as a consequence of engaging in bullying behaviours.
- You have the right to expect the principal to send the director general of the school board a summary report of the nature of the bullying incident and the follow-up measures taken.
At the School Board Level:
- The school board is responsible for appointing a Student Ombudsman at the school board to support parents or guardians to deal with their complaints concerning bullying or violence at school.
- The school board is responsible for giving the parents or guardians an opportunity to have an open discussion before expelling the student who engaged in bullying behaviours from the school, or enrolling him or her in another school.
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.
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