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 behavior 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 behavior. 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.
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:
(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
(126.96.36.199) 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).
You can read the official document and legislation here