Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is committed to providing caring, safe, respectful and inclusive learning environments for all students. For the past six years, we have been actively engaged in a coordinated effort with employees, students, parents/guardians and community partners, at both the system and school levels, to develop direction, supports and resources to help deal with the complex issue of student bullying.
Bullying can have devastating effects on individuals and groups. It is a societal issue that requires all of us to work together to support students who have been bullied and to help students who engage in bullying behaviours learn the impact of their actions.
What is bullying?
The Accepting Schools Act passed on June 5, 2012 defines bullying as the following:
Bullying means aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a pupil where, the behaviour is intended by the pupil to have the effect of, or the pupil 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 environment at a school for another individual, and
(b) the behaviour occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the pupil and the individual based on factors such as size, strength, age, intelligence, peer group power, economic status, social status, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, family circumstances, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, disability or the receipt of special education; (“intimidation”)
Bullying behaviour includes the use of any physical, verbal, electronic, written or other means.
For the purposes of the definition of “bullying”, bullying includes bullying by electronic means (commonly known as cyber-bullying), including,
(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; and
(c) Communicating material electronically to more than one individual or posting material on a website that may be accessed by one or more individuals.
As a school board we recognize that we have a significant role to play in bullying prevention and intervention. We are dedicated to this important work. Here are some of our key approaches to bullying prevention that align with Ministry of Education expectations:
• Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is committed to providing learning opportunities that promote social and emotional learning, as well as academic and physical growth. Our focus on character education is to support the development of safe and supportive school communities and to help students develop a foundation of good character. The Board believes that character development is about engaging the community in sharing the responsibility for character development.
• All bullying adversely affects healthy relationships, the school environment, and a school’s ability to educate students. It impacts negatively on students’ ability to learn. Bullying is not to be accepted on school property, at school-related activities, on school buses, or in any other circumstances where engaging in bullying will have a negative impact on the life of the school.
• Providing students with an opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and respectful society is a shared responsibility in which the district and its schools play an important role. Schools that use bullying prevention and intervention strategies, including progressive discipline, foster a positive learning and teaching environment that supports academic achievement for all students.
• A positive school climate is a crucial component of bullying prevention. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, comfortable and accepted. To help achieve a positive environment, schools actively promote and support positive behaviours that reflect the board’s Growing with Character attributes (caring, cooperation, honesty, humour, integrity, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness). Schools also endeavour to ensure that parents and members of the broader community are involved in the school community.
Over time we have developed a range of practices to help our schools develop positive and safe school environments. They include:
- character development
- bullying prevention education and awareness
- violence prevention programs
- student success strategies
- citizenship development
- student leadership
- peer and group counselling
- restorative practices
- mentor programs
- progressive discipline, which includes suspension or expulsion, when necessary
We also have in place threat assessment protocols and a police protocol so that we can work effectively with our community partners. Each of our schools has developed its own set of unique programs to support bullying prevention and how to best respond to bullying incidents.
Developing effective strategies to deal with bullying is an ongoing process that requires continual effort from all of us. This year we have identified a district-wide focus on enhancing safe, effective learning environments, expanding restorative practices awareness, expanding awareness of equity and inclusivity, and increasing the understanding of mental health supports.
In January 2012 we placed specific requirements in school improvement plans, in all 50 of our schools, to have explicit strategies in place to enable students to demonstrate strong citizenship skills, and to engage and welcome students, parents/guardians and community members as respected and valued partners in this dialogue.
We are continuing to implement Safe Schools Actions Teams at each school to assist in the review and development of specific plans and approaches. Membership on Safe Schools Action Teams includes employees, parents/guardians, students and community representatives. At the district level we continue to work in partnership with the Safe Schools Advisory Committee, made up of employees, trustees, parents/guardians, community partners and police agencies. This group continues to play a valued role in guiding district direction as it relates to safe schools.
As a district, we acknowledge that no child should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome at school because of the actions of others. Continuing to develop and implement effective prevention programs is our priority, followed by ensuring that we have supports in place for those who have been subjected to bullying, and appropriate measures in place to help students who have engaged in bullying so they can understand the impact of their actions.
We welcome opportunities for input at the school level through direct conversations with principals and staff, and involvement with the School Councils or Safe School Teams. Opportunities for input at the district level involve direct conversations with school superintendents or local trustees, involvement with the Safe Schools Advisory Committee or the Parent Involvement Committee.
Thousands of employees, parents/guardians, students and community partners are already engaged in this important work. Our strength and success will come though our collective efforts.
Rob McGall, Director of Education
Dwayne Inch, Chair of the Board
Ministry of Education
For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354, firstname.lastname@example.org