September 8, 2015
September is here which means a new school year is about to begin. While this may be an exciting time for many students (or not, if they’re still lamenting the loss of summer) it can also be quite stressful for those who fear the return of a toxic learning environment created by schoolyard bullies.
A serious issue addressed by the Canadian government, bullying isn’t something to take lightly. In fact, there are certain forms of bullying that are considered illegal, in schools and outside of them. Gain some insights on bullying and the law with our brief guide below.
As outlined in Bill 14, which amended the Education Act, the following is the Canadian government’s official definition of bullying:
“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
- causing physical or emotional harm to the other pupil or damage to the other pupil’s property
- placing the other pupil in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or damage to his or her property
- creating a hostile environment at school for the other pupil
- infringing on the legal rights of the other pupil at school
- materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school”
Bullying As An Illegal Offense
Mild forms of bullying can definitely be difficult for a child to deal with, even being traumatic, but there are certain forms of bullying that are actually against the law. The RCMP lists the examples the punishable-by-law acts of bullying as:
Threats of death/serious bodily harm: Any statement made that explicitly states the desire to kill or physically harm another person. These can be enacted in-person, on the phone, online, or even through text message.
Criminal Harassment: Online or offline, this is the action of making another person fear for their own personal safety.
Assault: This extends to “pushing, tripping, slapping, hitting or spitting.”
Revenge Porn & The Law
One specific form of illegal bullying was given special focus in a new law that came to be in March 2015, one “that prohibits the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.” Otherwise known as “revenge porn,” the recently made law applies to all members of society, including those above the age of 18.
“Intimate image” is defined in the new law as “an image that depicts a person engaged in explicit sexual activity or that depicts a sexual organ, anal region or breast” that was taken at a moment when the subject in question “had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time of the recording.”
The maximum penalty for this offense is five years imprisonment.
A Small Saving Grace: Bullying Week
Reading about all of the illegal forms of bullying isn’t the most comforting of material, especially if you have kids in school right now. One small respite for parents is another aspect of Bill 14, where it specifically states that every year, the third week of November will be “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week” in schools.
During this week-long focus on bullying, children will learn about the mechanics of bullying and the emotional and legal consequences of the action. Ideally, the somewhat recent initiative which began in 2011 will ensure that future generations of students no longer feel the need to bully other students.
Featured image courtesy of: nist6ss