40:1 Bill 14, Anti-Bullying Act, 2012

MacLeod, Lisa

Viewing: Original (current version) pdf

Bill 14                                                          2011

An Act to designate Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Schools and to provide for bullying prevention curricula, policies and administrative accountability in schools

Note: This Act amends the Education Act.  For the legislative history of the Act, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at www.e-Laws.gov.on.ca.

Preamble

Bullying, particularly in schools, has become an increasing problem in Canada. Victims of bullying have suffered mental anguish, bodily injury and even death at the hands of their tormentors.

Bullying can leave a harmful and long-lasting mark on its victims. It can leave children with painful emotional and mental scarring and a lifelong struggle with self-esteem. Bullying can therefore impair the ability of a victim to contribute meaningfully to society and to function normally in the victim’s family environment.

Bullies suffer as well, since bullying may be indicative of deeper psychological and emotional problems. Children who bully more frequently experience psychological problems later in life, such as aggressive tendencies and occasional symptoms of depression. Childhood bullies often display the same types of behaviour as adults and are found to be more likely to harass co-workers or commit spousal, child or senior abuse. Studies have shown that bullies are far more likely to engage in delinquent behaviour. According to Public Safety Canada, students who engage in bullying are 37 per cent more likely than those who do not to commit offences as adults.

Bullying also creates a poisoned atmosphere among persons who observe the bullying of others. For example, the occurrence of bullying can intimidate observers, lead observers to excuse, accommodate or even encourage the bully or, worst of all, lead them to try bullying themselves. The negative cost of bullying to society at large is therefore considerable.

A safe and inclusive learning environment in schools is critical for students to achieve academic success. Parents and students must be confident in knowing that the school environment is free from harassment, violence, intolerance and intimidation, all of which are forms of bullying.

In December 2009, the Occupational Health and Safety Act was amended to add Part III.0.1 to provide protective measures against violence and harassment in the workplace. Such harassment can include bullying. It is appropriate to expand that approach to deal with bullying in schools. Bullying in schools is particularly odious since its victims are children who are often less able to defend themselves than adults are.

It is appropriate to designate a week to express our collective opposition to bullying and to take measures to raise awareness and to prevent bullying in all of its many forms in the school environment.

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Schools

   1.  The week beginning with the third Sunday in November in each year is designated as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Schools.

Education Act

   2.  (1)  Subsection 1 (1) of the Education Act is amended by adding the following definition:

“bullying” means the severe or repeated use by one or more pupils of a written, verbal, electronic or other form of expression, a physical act or gesture or any combination of them if it is directed at another pupil and if it has the effect of or is reasonably intended to have the effect of,

  (a)  causing physical or emotional harm to the other pupil or damage to the other pupil’s property,

  (b)  placing the other pupil in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or damage to his or her property,

   (c)  creating a hostile environment at school for the other pupil,

  (d)  infringing on the legal rights of the other pupil at school, or

  (e)  materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school; (“intimidation”)

   (2)  Section 1 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Cyber-bullying

   (1.2)  Without limiting the generality of the definition of “bullying” in subsection (1), bullying includes bullying, known as cyber-bullying, that is done through any form of electronic means using any technique, 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 posted content or messages; and

   (c)  communicating material to more than one person or posting material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons.

Bullying in schools

   (1.2.0.1)  For the purposes of this Act, bullying shall be deemed to occur in a school if it occurs,

  (a)  on a school site or public property within 50 metres of a school site;

  (b)  during the course of an activity, function or program that is conducted for a school purpose, whether or not it takes place at a school site;

   (c)  through the use of technology or an electronic device provided to pupils by a school; or

  (d)  through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not provided to pupils by a school if the bullying has the effect of or is reasonably intended to have the effect described in clause (c), (d) or (e) of the definition of “bullying” in subsection (1).

   3.  Section 3 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Same, acts of bullying

   (2)  The report shall specify,

  (a)  the number of reports of an act of bullying that the Minister has received from boards under paragraph 7.8 of subsection 170 (1) during the immediately preceding fiscal year; and

  (b)  the steps that the Minister has taken during the immediately preceding fiscal year to address bullying in schools.

   4.  (1)  Subsection 170 (1) of the Act is amended by adding the following paragraphs:

instruction on bullying prevention

  7.4  provide instruction on bullying prevention during the school year for every pupil who has a right to attend a school under the jurisdiction of the board and ensure that the instruction is appropriate to the age of the pupils receiving it and conforms with the curriculum guidelines, if any, issued by the Minister under paragraph 3 of subsection 8 (1);

remedial programs for bullying

  7.5  ensure that schools within its jurisdiction provide remedial programs designed to assist victims of bullying recover and to discourage perpetrators of bullying from continuing to engage in bullying, which programs may be offered by social workers, psychologists or other trained professionals;

professional development programs on bullying

  7.6  establish professional development programs that are designed to educate teachers in schools within its jurisdiction about bullying and strategies for dealing with bullying, including the strategies, if any, that the Minister has approved, and ensure that the programs are open to teachers’ assistants in its schools;

educational material on bullying

  7.7  make available to the public information about recognizing and dealing with bullying;

   (2)  Subsection 170 (1) of the Act is amended by adding the following paragraph:

principals’ reports on bullying

  7.8  promptly forward to the Minister the reports that it receives from principals under subsection 305.1 (4);

   5.  Clause 264 (1) (h) of the Act is amended by adding “and the professional development programs established by the board under paragraph 7.6 of subsection 170 (1)” at the end.

   6.  Subsection 301 (2) of the Act is amended by adding the following paragraph:

  5.1  To discourage bullying in schools.

   7.  The Act is amended by adding the following sections:

Model provincial bullying prevention plan

   303.1  (1)  In consultation with other Ministers of the Government of Ontario, the Minister shall develop a model bullying prevention plan to assist a board in establishing its bullying prevention plan under section 303.2.

Not binding

   (2)  The model bullying prevention plan is not a policy of the Minister and is not a regulation within the meaning of Part III (Regulations) of the Legislation Act, 2006.

Communication to boards

   (3)  The Minister shall make a copy of the model bullying prevention plan available to every board.

Same, information on bullying

   (4)  The Minister shall compile a database of information about recognizing and dealing with bullying and make the database available to every board.

Board’s bullying prevention plan

   303.2  (1)  Every board shall establish a bullying prevention plan for bullying in schools within the board’s jurisdiction and submit it to the Minister for approval.

Contents

   (2)  The bullying prevention plan shall,

  (a)  include descriptions of bullying and retaliation to bullying;

  (b)  establish procedures for persons, including the pupils, teachers and staff of the board and the parents and guardians of the pupils, to report bullying or retaliation to bullying to persons or bodies specified in the plan;

   (c)  require that the person or body that receives a report of bullying or retaliation to bullying shall keep the identity of the person reporting confidential, if the person so requests, and that no disciplinary action shall be taken under this Part against a pupil solely on the basis of a request that a report involving the pupil be kept confidential;

  (d)  establish procedures for a principal to respond promptly to a report of bullying or retaliation to bullying, including by investigating the report;

  (e)  state that bullying is prohibited and identify the range of disciplinary action under this Part that a principal may take against a perpetrator for bullying;

    (f)  establish procedures for assessing the needs for protection of a victim of bullying and restoring a sense of safety to the victim;

  (g)  establish strategies for protecting from bullying a person who reports bullying or retaliation to bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying or retaliation to bullying or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying or retaliation to bullying;

   (h)  establish disciplinary action under this Part that a principal may take against a person found to have falsely accused another person of bullying;

    (i)  establish procedures consistent with the law for a principal to promptly,

           (i)  notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator and the victim of an act of bullying that the act has occurred and the disciplinary action that the principal proposes to take to prevent any further acts of bullying, and

          (ii)  notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that an act of bullying has occurred if criminal charges may be laid against the perpetrator; and

    (j)  include all other matters that the regulations prescribe.

Consultation

   (3)  When establishing the bullying prevention plan, a board shall solicit the views of the pupils, teachers and staff of the board, the volunteers working in the schools, the parents and guardians of the pupils, school councils and the public.

Different plans

   (4)  A board may establish different bullying prevention plans that apply with respect to different schools, different circumstances or different classes of persons.

Not regulations

   (5)  A bullying prevention plan established under this section is not a regulation within the meaning of Part III (Regulations) of the Legislation Act, 2006.

Approval of plan

   (6)  A bullying prevention plan has no effect until the Minister, by order, approves it, which the Minister shall do only if he or she is satisfied that the plan complies with subsection (2) and that the contents of the plan are effective to deal with bullying in schools.

Minister’s order

   (7)  An order of the Minister approving a bullying prevention plan is not a regulation within the meaning of Part III (Regulations) of the Legislation Act, 2006.

No hearing required

   (8)  The Minister is not required to hold or afford to a person an opportunity for a hearing before making an order approving a bullying prevention plan.

Notice of approval

   (9)  Upon approving a bullying prevention plan, the Minister shall notify the board.

Implementation of plans

   (10)  A board shall ensure that each school within the board’s jurisdiction implements the plan that applies to it.

Communication of plans

   (11)  A board shall ensure that a copy of the bullying prevention plans that it establishes under this section is available to the public, including on the board’s website on the Internet.

Principal’s duty

   (12)  A principal of a school shall,

  (a)  provide a copy of the bullying prevention plan established for the school to the pupils, teachers, staff and volunteers working in the school, the parents and guardians of the pupils and the school council; and

  (b)  make a copy of the bullying prevention plan established for the school available to the public, including by posting on the school’s website, if any, on the Internet.

Review of plan

   (13)  At times that it considers appropriate or as required by the regulations, a board shall periodically review the bullying prevention plans that it establishes under this section and subsections (2) to (12) apply to the review, reading references to establishing a plan as references to reviewing a plan.

   8.  The Act is amended by adding the following section before the heading “Suspension”:

School staff duties in the case of bullying

   305.1  (1)  A teacher, staff member or volunteer working in a school who observes an act of bullying occurring in the school shall report it promptly to the principal, regardless of whether any other person has previously reported the act to the principal.

Investigation

   (2)  A principal who receives a report under subsection (1) or who believes that an act of bullying may have occurred in the school shall investigate it promptly.

Principal’s duties

   (3)  A principal of a school who, after the investigation, believes that an act of bullying has occurred in the school shall,

  (a)  notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator and the victim of the act that the act has occurred;

  (b)  invite the parents or guardians of the perpetrator and the victim of the act to submit a written account of the act to the principal;

   (c)  notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that an act of bullying has occurred if criminal charges may be laid against the perpetrator;

  (d)  notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator and the victim of the act of the disciplinary action that the principal proposes to take to prevent any further acts of bullying; and

  (e)  require the perpetrator to participate in the remedial programs described in paragraph 7.5 of subsection 170 (1) to discourage the perpetrator from continuing to engage in bullying and allow the victim to participate in the programs.

Principal’s report to board

   (4)  After a reasonable time after the end of every school year, or more frequently if the board so requires, a principal shall prepare and submit to the board a report of,

  (a)  the number of reports of an act of bullying in the school that the principal has received during the school year;

  (b)  the number of cases, out of the reports mentioned in clause (a), in which the principal, after an investigation, believed that an act of bullying had occurred; and

   (c)  the number of cases, out of the reports mentioned in clause (a), in which the principal, after an investigation, contacted a law enforcement agency so that the agency could consider laying a criminal charge against the perpetrator of the act of bullying.

Commencement and Short Title

Commencement

   9.  (1)  Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Same

   (2)  Subsection 4 (1) and sections 5, 6 and 7 come into force on September 1, 2012.

Short title

   10.  The short title of this Act is the Anti-Bullying Act, 2011.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Bill designates the week beginning with the third Sunday in November in each year as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Schools.

The Bill also amends the Education Act to deal with bullying by pupils that occurs in schools. It covers bullying that occurs on a school site or public property within 50 metres of a school site, during an activity conducted for a school purpose, through the use of technology provided to pupils by a school or through any technology if it affects the orderly operation of a school. A school board is required to provide instruction on bullying prevention, remedial programs for victims and perpetrators of bullying, professional development programs for teachers and information for the public.

The Minister of Education is required to develop a model bullying prevention plan to assist school boards. In turn, school boards are required to establish a bullying prevention plan.

Teachers and other persons who work in a school are required to report to the principal acts of bullying that they observe in the school. If, after conducting an investigation, the principal believes that an act of bullying has occurred, the principal is required to take the action specified in the Bill and to submit an annual report to the school board on acts of bullying in the school. The board must forward the report to the Minister who is required to include a reference to it in the Minister’s annual report to the Legislative Assembly.

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