Ontario has designated the week beginning on the third Sunday of November as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week to promote safe schools and a positive learning environment.
All schools have published this definition in your child’s agendas, on the school website or somewhere visible inside of the school:
Bullying is defined as a form of repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.
Bullying can present in different forms. These include:
Physical (hitting, shoving, stealing or damaging property)
Verbal (name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist or homophobic comments)
Social (excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumours about them)
Electronic (commonly known as cyberbullying) – spreading rumours and hurtful comments through the use of cellphones, e-mail, text messaging and social networking sites)
Bullying happens when children and adolescents selectively (for a variety of reasons) choose to be unkind, to not think of others and to therefore not exercise empathy, tolerance, compassion and understanding towards peers, youth and others in general.
What are schools doing to keep your children safe?
It is important to know that every school has a Safe School Strategy. This strategy requires that all schools have a bullying prevention and intervention plan and procedures in place, as well as a safe school’s team. Schools have been provided with resources and training for teachers and principals. So ask your child’s principal about what their Safe school strategy is and how it can help protect your child.
The Ministry of Education sees bullying as a serious problem as demonstrated by the policies and procedures that are in place:
Policy (PPM140) defines bullying and outlines expectations for school boards on bullying prevention and intervention.
The Keeping our Kids Safe at School Act came into effect in 2010 and states that all staff must report serious incidents and respond to inappropriate actions that take place in schools.
And, Bill 212 states that students both in elementary and secondary school who engage in any type of bullying and break the code of conduct can get suspended from school.
Bullying affects the whole child (socially, emotionally and academically) and every aspect of their life. If your child is being bullied, don’t wait – get help. Here is the ministry guide on what to look for if you suspect your child is getting bullied:
Please educate your child and yourself in how to keep our schools and students safe. Urge them to participate and do their part to stand up to bullying and to keep the lines of communication open and honest. Remind them that schools are safe places and that there are many programs and policies in place that protect students and make all schools safe places to learn.
When students understand that bullying is a school, community and societal issue – they won’t feel alone in their struggle. That knowledge may even discourage a child who may have engaged in bullying type behaviours to find a better way to express themselves.
This week is an opportunity to echo at home what your child is learning about in their school. It is a perfect week for a social emotional check in.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Until our next Lesson…..