Anti-bullying school legislation tabled
QUEBEC CITY - Quebec schools will continue to maintain considerable latitude in their approach to bullying but they'll all have to take the issue seriously, in light of Bill 56 tabled Wednesday in the National Assembly by Education Minister Line Beauchamp.
The bill defines the duties and responsibilities of each school to make their environments free of violence and intimidation.
Each school, whether public or private, will have to adopt a plan to fight bullying, which includes preventive measure, and what actions will be taken in case of problems, as well as punishment for offenders.
"We have to stop being silent witnesses," said Beauchamp. "We have to intervene, we have to act."
The bill gives the Ministry of Education power to sanction any school or school board that falls short of the reporting requirements.
Bullying will be defined as any behaviour, speech, acts or gestures, including cyber-bullying, expressed directly or indirectly, including by social media, which has the goal of hurting, oppressing or ostracizing.
The legislation aims to protect students, teachers and school staff.
The student will also have duties to fulfill. To comply with the law, a student must take conduct himself in a civil and respectful way at school.
Parents might be forced to compensate for any damage a student causes in any moment of aggression.
PQ education critic Sylvain Gaudrault said the bill doesn't go far enough.
"They need resources against bullying. I think it's a good intention, but not enough resources," he said.
McGill University professor and cyber-bullying researcher Shaheen Shariff agreed.
"It doesn't seem to cover how the schools need to do that. Are there resources for school principals and teachers to get the kind of training that they need?" she said.