What is Bullying?
While Yukon’s territorial legislation does not define bullying, the Department of Education’s Safe and Caring Schools Policy defines bullying as a pattern of repeated aggressive behaviour, directed from one person to another. It can be direct or indirect, physical, social, verbal, or electronic (cyberbullying). Bullying involves a power imbalance between the bully and the victim, and can lead to a cycle of bullying victimization where the victim becomes increasingly powerless. It can focus on: disability; sexual orientation; gender identity; sexuality; race/ethnicity/religion; or other issues.
Bullying and the Yukon Law
In Yukon, Policy 1011 The Safe and Caring Schools Policy is in place to address bullying. The policy is a commitment of the school community to plan, strategize and create a respectful, safe and nurturing educational environment for everyone. It is accompanied by the Safe and Caring Schools Policy Support Plan, which outlines support programs available to schools to aid in implementing the policy.
Under the policy, cyberbullying is specified as: “threats or harmful and demeaning text messages, photos or videos distributed or published to the internet”.
For more details on cyberbullying legislation, including federal legislation, please visit: Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying
Legal Requirements for Private Schools in the Yukon
Under the Yukon Education Act [PDF], “school” is defined as a body of students organized as a unit for educational purposes under the jurisdiction of the Minister or a School Board; the word “public” does not appear in the definition. The legislation also provides that a school is entitled to be registered or accredited as a private school if the operator of the school applies to the Minister, meaning that the same responsibilities Yukon 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.
This is what is expected of you as an educator:
At the Classroom/School Level:
- You are expected to teach positive ways to problem solve, and to help develop the social and emotional potential of all students, to the extent of their abilities.
- You have the right to have the opportunity to be trained in identifying and responding to bullying behaviours and in providing positive redirection or interventions.
- You have the right to ask your school administrators to implement Positive Behaviour Intervention Supports, a framework for schools to build behavioural expectations and enhance social skills of the student population.
At the School Board Level:
The school administrators, in consultation with their school communities, are responsible for developing a school-based policy that includes practices dealing with bullying and harassment. The policy is to be reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis to build a safe and caring school.
At the Ministry Level:
- The Department of Education is required to provide schools with the resources in order to implement the policy –these resources should include trained departmental staff and professional development for the administrator, teachers, and other school personnel.
- You have the right to expect the Department of Education to provide support to schools for staff-led peer support groups and other positive school climate building activities.
- You have the right to expect the Department of Education to provide resources to schools on bullying awareness and prevention strategies.
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:
At the Classroom/School Level:
- You are expected to respond with a clear message conveying that bullying and cyberbullying will not be tolerated.
- You are expected to listen, investigate, offer support and determine an appropriate course of action in response to bullying or cyberbullying incidents.
- You are responsible for keeping a record of a description of the incident including any actions taken in response to the bullying or cyberbullying incident, and to keep that record for one year unless there is an ongoing investigation or formal complaint.
- You are expected to put forth continuous efforts to address the situation involving the bullying incident until the situation is resolved.
- You are responsible for informing the parents or legal guardians of the bullying or cyberbullying incident and how it is being handled by the school staff, conditional upon the school administrator’s discretion.
- You are responsible for informing the parents or legal guardians of a written action plan in response to the bullying or cyberbullying incident when necessary.
At the School Board Level:
- The school board is responsible for ensuring the procedures for suspension – as a consequence of engaging in bullying or cyberbullying behaviours – will follow the school rules and the Education Act, and that serious cases will be discussed with the Superintendent.
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: http://www.prevnet.ca