Bullying is never acceptable at Avon Maitland and we are committed to providing each student with the safest and most successful school career possible.
What is bullying?
Bullying is aggressive behaviour that is typically repeated over time. It is meant to cause harm, fear or distress or create a negative environment at school for another person. Bullying occurs in a situation where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.
How serious a problem is bullying?
Bullying should not be considered just “part of growing up”. Research and experience consistently show that bullying is a serious issue, with far-reaching consequences for the students involved, their families and peers, and the community around them.
Those children who are victimized, bully other children, or both, are at risk for many emotional, behavioural, and relationship problems. They will require support from adults to help them develop healthy relationships, not only in school but throughout their lives.
All of our schools strive to create a safe, caring and inclusive environment for their students, staff and community members. Our safe schools plan and positive student behaviour standards are based upon policies, procedures and memoranda issued by our Board and the Ministry of Education.
Steps that staff undertake to ensure student safety and well-being include, but are not limited to:
- Greeting students in the morning to monitor interactions;
- Monitoring students in the hallways and on the yard during class changes and at recess;
- Bringing in speakers from the OPP and the Health Units to address positive social behaviour, what bullying is and why bullying is wrong;
- Bringing in guest speakers that help students to develop personal resilience in dealing with the ups and downs of social interactions;
- Teaching students the “Stop, Go, Tell” system to deal with inappropriate behaviour.
Unfortunately, we know that bullying still happens. So we offer the following strategies and resources for you while spelling out our approach and commitment in keeping your child safe.
My child is being bullied. What should I do?
- Listen to your child and assure them that they have a right to be safe.
- Be clear on the facts. Make notes about what happened and when it happened.
- Help your child see that there is a difference between “ratting”, “tattling” or “telling” and reporting. It takes courage to report. Reporting is done not to cause trouble for another student, but to protect all students.
- Make an appointment to talk to your child/teenager’s teacher, another teacher that your child/teenager trusts or the principal or vice-principal of the school.
- Difficult as it may be, try to remain calm so that you can support your child and plan a course of action with him or her.
- Stay on course. Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour. If your meetings with school staff haven’t made the bullying stop, go back and talk to the principal. Follow up on the steps that were agreed to at the meeting.
What can I expect as a parent if my child is being bullied?
- Your child’s teacher or another teacher your child trusts may be able to solve the problem or may have suggestions about the kind of help your child needs.
- Talk to your principal, if you would like to learn more about the services available through the school.
- School staff are expected to make every effort to fully investigate your concerns, while protecting students’ privacy.
- Teachers should discuss bullying openly in class and help students understand the importance of respect, caring about the feelings of others, and friendship.
- Ask to see your school’s code of conduct, which sets out how students, teachers, and other members of the school community should behave towards one another.
- Ask to see your school’s bullying-prevention policy. The policy outlines what the school staff can do to solve the problem.
- All school staff must report incidents of bullying to the principal. School staff who work directly with students must respond to any incidents of bullying.
- If, after a reasonable amount of time, you are not satisfied with the school’s response, you may contact the supervisory officer of your school board.
How can I help my child deal with bullying?
By working with the school to help your child or teen handle the bullying problem, you are leading by example and giving a clear message that bullying is wrong.
Regardless of age, you can help by encouraging your child to talk to you about bullying and by giving the following advice:
- Stay calm and walk away from the situation.
- Tell an adult whom you trust – a teacher, the principal, the school bus driver or the lunchroom supervisor – about what happened or report it anonymously.
- Talk about it with your brothers or sisters, or with friends, so that you don’t feel you’re alone. • Call KidsHelpPhone at 1-800-668-6868 or visit www.kidshelpphone.ca
How do Avon Maitland schools deal with bullying and other incidents?
Students who bully others, whether it happens in person or online, can face different consequences.
When addressing bullying, principals use a progressive discipline approach.
Progressive discipline helps to prevent inappropriate behaviour from getting worse and having a negative impact on all students and their perceptions of safety and the school. It also promotes positive student behaviour and helps the student take responsibility for his or her behaviour and learn more positive ways of interacting with others.
Progressive discipline starts at the lowest level of intervention and may increase in severity if there are repeated or more severe incidents. If there is an incident, students are spoken to by staff, parents are informed and plans are put in place to help the student not repeat the same behaviour. If the same or similar behaviours reoccur the student is counselled and a further consequence is imposed.
Consequences include detention, community service around the school, withdrawal of privileges, spending time in the office rather than in the classroom working on special learning assignments, and ultimately there is the possibility of suspension or expulsion in extreme cases. Decisions about consequences are always made with an aim to help the child learn what type of behaviour is acceptable in a school or community setting. Our experience has shown us that when children understand better, they do better.
Ontario’s progressive discipline policy allows a principal to choose from a range of options to address the behaviour and help the student learn from his or her choices. Some examples include:
- an apology for a hurtful or disrespectful comment
- a review of the expectations for the student
- a meeting with parents/guardians
- anger management counselling
- having the student suspended from school.
Schools will provide support to all students who are involved in bullying: students who have been bullied, students who engaged in bullying behaviour, and those who witness this behaviour.
Avon Maitland has:
- policies to prevent and address bullying
- bullying prevention and intervention plans
- policies for progressive discipline and equity and inclusive education.
All board employees are required to report serious student incidents, such as bullying, to the principal. Principals are required to investigate all reported incidents of bullying. Board employees who work directly with students, such as teachers, social workers and guidance counsellors, must respond to all inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour that has a negative impact on the school climate, including bullying.
What are schools doing?
Safe Schools Teams
Every public school in Ontario is required to have a safe schools team. The team is made up of parent representatives, students, the school principal teachers, non-teaching staff and a community partner. The team must review the results of the school’s School Climate Survey.
Teachers and principals have received training on bullying prevention and, most recently, on Keeping Our Kids Safe At School Act to understand responding and reporting requirements.
Code of Conduct
Ontario’s provincial code of conduct sets clear standards of behaviour for individual school boards to follow, so they can develop their own codes of conduct. Each board must follow the Ontario code of conduct. Each school must have a code of conduct and a bullying prevention and intervention plan and procedures in place as part of their School Improvement Plan.
Promoting Positive School Climate
Promoting a Positive School Climate is a resource that provides examples of practices and activities that will help schools improve the overall school climate. Many of the suggestions offered may be familiar and may already be happening in schools. This resource has been designed to help schools and safe schools teams identify practices that could work for schools or be adapted to suit their needs.
How Ontario is making schools safe and accepting
A positive school climate and a safe learning and teaching environment are essential if students are to succeed in school.
Learn more about:
- Safe Schools Strategy. This comprehensive strategy includes a safe and accepting schools team in every school, school resources, training for teachers and principals, and a partnership with Kids Help Phone.
- School climate survey for parents. This survey is available in 22 languages.
- Ontario’s approach to discipline. “Progressive discipline” involves the whole school and promotes a positive school climate. It enables the principal to choose the appropriate consequences to address inappropriate student behaviour. It also offers students multiple supports to promote positive behaviour. This policy is explained here.
- Code of conduct. This guide to Ontario’s code of conduct outlines the roles and responsibilities for everyone in the school community, including students, parents, school staff and community partners.
- Ontario’s Policy on Bullying Prevention and Intervention. This policy outlines expectations for school boards on developing and implementing their bullying prevention and intervention policy.
- Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy. This outlines how the ministry, school boards and schools are supporting equity and inclusive education in Ontario schools.
- Premier’s Awards for Accepting Schools. The award recognizes up to 10 safe and accepting schools teams that have done exceptional and innovative work in creating a safe and accepting school environment.
- Kids Help Phone. This confidential counselling service is available 24/7. Visit www.kidshelpphone.ca or call 1-800-668-6868.
Resource: Ontario Ministry of Education
*Day of Pink
Today marks the International Day of Pink. It is a day where communities across the country, and across the world, can unite in celebrating diversity and raising awareness to stop homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, and all forms of bullying.