The BC Ministry of Education has developed a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to address bullying and enhance threat and risk assessment protocols in all school districts. The goal is to ensure all students enjoy a safe school culture and learning environment.
The Ministry of Education’s ERASE Bullying Strategy builds on Greater Heights Learning Academy’s longstanding commitment to creating safe caring and respectful schools by focusing on student connectedness.
The following document is designed to assist parents, guardians and students in better understanding the ERASE Bullying Strategy and how it has been implemented.
As is always the case, parents and guardians are encouraged to talk with their child’s teacher(s) whenever they have a concern. Online resources for parents: http://www.erasebullying.ca
Please see the Greater Heights Learning Academy code of conduct for our expectations.
“Bullying … is a pattern of repeated aggressive behaviour, with negative intent, directed from one child to another where there is a power imbalance.”
Cyber Bullying can happen at any time. It can be public or in private and sometimes is only known to the target and to the person perpetrating the bullying. Cyberbullying has changed the traditional face of bullying in schools in three significant ways:
- Access: It is virtually impossible for victims to get away from cyberbullies. Most students have access to all types of technology; cyberbullies have access to and can reach their victims at almost any time. Victims do not have a safe haven as they do in some cases of traditional bullying.
- Scope: Unlike traditional bullying, due to technology, the cyberbully audience has few, if any barriers; and the audience easily grows almost exponentially.
- Anonymity: Cyberbullying is not a face-to-face interaction and cyberbullies hide behind technology. Anonymity, which is inherent in electronic communication, promotes a lack of inhibition. As a result, normal behaviour restraints can disappear, allowing students to act harsher than they would in real life.
We need to clearly identify the difference between conflict and bullying in order to appropriately respond to bullying incidents.
While the two seem similar in some instances, there is actually a distinct difference: Bullying or Conflict?
Bullying is a persistent pattern of unwelcome or aggressive behaviour that often involves an imbalance of power and/or the intention to harm or humiliate someone. Bullying often results in feelings of distress for the victim.
Conflict, on the other hand, is generally a disagreement or difference in opinion between peers who typically have equal power in their relationships. It’s usually an inevitable part of a group dynamic.
Example # 1 (Secondary) Two female members of the school basketball team are arguing with each other over the loss of a recent game. Annie blames Susan for the loss because when Annie was open during the last seconds of the game, Susan didn’t pass the ball to her but instead took the shot herself and missed. Annie calls Susan a derogatory name and then pushes her into the change room lockers and storms out.
Example # 2 (Elementary) A group of primary students are on the playground at recess. Two of the students start to argue when Patty wants Lisa to trade recess snacks but Lisa doesn’t want to. Patty becomes angry and tells Lisa that she can’t play with the rest of them if she won’t share her recess snack. When the girls don’t support Lisa, she bursts into tears and runs back into the school.
These are both examples of conflict. In the first scenario, Annie may have had an Intent To Harm Susan but there is no discernible Power Imbalance nor has the behaviour been Repeated Over Time. In the elementary example, there appears to be a Power Imbalance with the peers supporting Patty over Lisa and there may even have been an Intent To Harm Lisa’s feelings but there is no pattern of the behaviour being Repeated over Time. The fact that one or even two of the elements of bullying exists does not automatically categorize the incident as bullying. Many conflicts include an imbalance of power and or an intent to harm but may be isolated occurrences and therefore are examples of inappropriate behaviour. An incident cannot be categorized as bullying unless there is a pattern of the behaviour being Repeated Over Time.
Level I Response – inappropriate behaviour is responded to by describing the student’s actions in terms that are clear and direct. Additionally, the impact of that behaviour on others is pointed out and the student is asked what alternative behaviour, that meets school-wide expectations, could be used instead or in the future.
Level II Response – the Describe and Respond steps are followed at this level as well. However, as the behaviour is either of a more concerning nature or is something that the student has been spoken with about previously, the student is confronted about the concerning nature of the situation and it is clearly communicated that the behaviour is prohibited. Typically, the student will receive a natural consequence and some sort of follow up will take place to ensure the behaviour is not continuing and to help the student learn an appropriate replacement behaviour.
Level III Response – the previous steps are applied as appropriate. However, when behaviour is of serious concern, the problem may be significant enough to necessitate not only the assistance of school personnel but also a referral one of our community partners., such as the RCMP Liaison officer. Parents/Guardians are important partners in supporting a student who has displayed behaviour that is either Of Concern or Of Serious Concern. Additionally, parents of any student who may have been mistreated should expect to be contacted by the school to explain how their child will be supported.
Greater Heights Learning Academy has staff who have been trained in:
- Level 1
- Level 2
- Level 3
- Digital Threat Assessment
Our VTRA team includes administrators, counsellors and our Police Liaison officers.