What is Bullying?
As of August 2017, Saskatchewan has not yet enacted legislation pertaining to bullying. In terms of policy, the Government of Saskatchewan has established a Caring and Respectful Schools – Bullying Prevention a Model Policy (2006) to help school divisions implement an anti-bullying strategy. The Minister of Education also mandated an action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying in Saskatchewan. The resulting findings and recommendations are published in the report: “Saskatchewan’s Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying" (2013).
The Action Plan proposes that school divisions adopt the following definition of bullying: “Bullying is a relationship issue where one person or group repeatedly uses power and aggression to control or intentionally hurt, harm or intimidate another person or group. It is often based on another person’s appearance, abilities, culture, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Bullying can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, psychological or social. It can occur in person or through electronic communication.”
For information on federal legislation regarding cyberbullying, please visit: Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying
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.
As an educator, you should expect the following:
At the Classroom/School Level:
- You should expect there is a school code of conduct that specifically pertains to bullying, defines bullying in all its forms, and outlines the responsibilities of all personnel (e.g., principals, teachers, assistants, bus drivers, etc.) to prevent bullying, from Kindergarten through secondary school.
- You should expect all school personnel have had training about bullying and cyberbullying prevention in accordance with their roles and responsibilities.
- You should expect that all students participate in developmentally appropriate educational experiences throughout their school careers, conveying the importance of respect in relationships, teaching that bullying in all its forms is wrong and unacceptable, and teaching social skills that build capacity for healthy relationships.
- You should expect that there is adequate supervision and monitoring of students.
- You should expect that all school personnel consistently identify and respond to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying, and report incidents to the school principal or designate in accordance with school policy.
At the School Board Level:
- You should expect there is a school board policy that affirms all students’ rights to a safe learning environment, free from bullying in all its forms, define bullying, prohibit bullying, and outlines the responsibilities of the school board to prevent, and respond to instances of, bullying, from Kindergarten through secondary school.
- You should expect there are evidence based bullying prevention resources and training opportunities available.
- You should expect the school board to involve the school community, including staff, students, parents and community members in a regular review of the bullying prevention policy and school level practices to determine what is working and what needs to be strengthened to reduce problems of bullying.
At the Ministry Level:
- You should expect there is a Ministry or Department policy that affirms all students’ rights to a safe learning environment, free from bullying in all its forms, and the policy outlines the responsibilities of the ministry, the school board, and school principals and teachers to prevent bullying, from Kindergarten through secondary school.
- You should expect there is adequate funding for resources and staff training.
As an educator, these are your rights and responsibilities with respect to bullying and cyberbullying prevention:
- You have the right to ask parents to take an active interest in their children’s academic and social progress.
- You have the right to communicate to parents/guardians that their children’s social skills, self-discipline, empathy, compassion and ethics are learned through life, and that both parents and educators play key roles in transmitting these skills and values to their children through instruction and by example.
- You have the right to expect that parents/guardians:
- Encourage and assist their children to abide by the school’s code of conduct;
- Model respect for diversity and for engaging in positive, non-violent conflict resolution; and
- Refrain from inappropriate behaviours when interacting with school personnel.
- You have the responsibility to invite parents to participate in the development and support of your school’s safe school policy, code of conduct, and plan to create a positive learning and working environment.
- You have the responsibility to ask parents to communicate regularly with the school when there is a concern about bullying.
If an incident of bullying or cyberbullying is disclosed to you or witnessed by you, these are the educator’s responsibilities.
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, 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 has stopped and the situation is resolved.
- Delegated school personnel are responsible for consistently monitoring the student who bullied to ensure that the student is no longer perpetuating bullying behaviour.
- You should expect there is a progressive discipline policy in place that guides the choice of just and effective responses to bullying. 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; and
- the harm that was done to the student who was bullied.
At the School Board Level:
- You should expect there is school board policy in place affirming the school board’s commitment to a safe and positive learning environment.
- You should expect that there is a policy in place about sharing information with parents/guardians while maintaining the privacy of all students.
- You should expect there are guidelines in place outlining the school board’s responsibility to become involved in a bullying situation when there is an enduring problem that has not been successfully resolved at the school level.
- You should expect that there is a policy in place regarding removing a student from school if repeated bullying behaviours compromise a safe learning environment.
- You should expect that the policy and role of the School board in decision making involving suspensions, removals, and expulsions is clearly explained to parents, as are the procedures for resolving issues.
At the Ministry Level:
- You should expect there are resources available to provide the necessary supports to students who have been bullied, who have bullied others, and who have witnessed bullying.
- You should expect that the role of the Ministry in decision making involving suspensions, removals, and expulsions is clearly explained to parents, as are the procedures for resolving issues.
- You should expect that there are alterative programs in place for youth who were removed from their community schools, and plans are made for a supported re-entry when possible.
Remember to consider your own behaviour, despite any disagreements or hostility you may encounter. Children and youth 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: http://www.prevnet.ca