Minister's Task Force on Cyberbullying

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NSTU Policy

Use of Internet and Communications Technology Policy (CyberBullying)

(1) The NSTU recognizes the following definitions with respect to the appropriate use of Internet and communications technology:

(a) Appropriate Cyberconduct is the ethical, legal and positive relationships among and between members of the school community that reflect respectful and responsible behaviour while using information and communication technology.

(b) Appropriate Cyberconduct involves a set of rules for behaving properly online. In an educational setting, examples of appropriate cyberconduct include:

i Maintaining professional standards when communicating with teachers, students, parents, and administrators
ii Not accessing internet sites that are illegal
iii Not using technology to engage in criminal activity
iv Not sharing confidential information about students, parents, teachers or administrative personnel
v Not using the anonymity of the internet to bully, harass, or intimidate others
vi Not mass emailing someone (spamming) you disagree with
vii Not posting personal images of yourself or others on social networking sites without appropriate protections in place

(c)  Cyberbullying: The use of information and communication technology to bully, embarrass, threaten or harass another. It also includes the use of information and communication technology to engage in conduct or behaviour that is derogatory, defamatory, degrading, illegal, and/or abusive.

(d)  Information and Communication Technology: Equipment that includes, but is not limited to, any current or emerging stationary or wireless technologies or systems that can be used by individuals or groups for the purpose of communication, entertainment, data management, word processing, internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording and information transmitting/ receiving/ storing.

(e) Safe School Environment: Within the context of cyberconduct,it is an environment where teaching and learning takes place while accessing and utilizing all the educational opportunities, influence and potential of information and communication technology. Furthermore, it is a setting that is equitable and free from hazards and abuses directed at, or occurring from, users of information and communication technology.

(2) The NSTU believes the following Guiding Principles should inform the approach adopted by all education partners concerning the appropriate use of the Internet and communications technology:

(a) Safe and caring schools that promote healthy workplaces for teachers and healthy learning environments for children and youth should be a provincial priority.

(b) Collectively, society shares the responsibility for creating positive learning environments that include cyberspaces which foster respect and understanding, and are free from inappropriate cyberconduct including cyberbullying.

(c) Individual rights to freedom of information, thought, belief, opinion and expression, should be balanced with the rights and responsibilities of parents, guardians and the education community. These include the right to guide individuals in the responsible use of information and communication technology.

(d) Any response to cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying should focus on protection of students, teachers, and the school community.

(e) Cybermisconduct, including cyberbullying, negatively influences student learning and teacher workplaces and should be viewed as a significant occupational health and safety issue.

(f) Cybermisconduct that originates from the school or from the community-at-large, which ultimately has a negative impact on the school climate and/or culture, warrants action by the school board, including the imposition of sanctions, when appropriate, on the offender or offenders.

(g) Swift, decisive action is necessary to effectively respond to cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying. Varied strategies and responses are required to address this complex, multifaceted problem.

(3) The NSTU firmly believes that education is the essential pillar upon which the appropriate use of the Internet and communications technologies can be realized.

(a) Education, the most effective preventative measure to combat cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying within school communities, is a shared responsibility of students, teachers, parents, administrators, school boards, communities, and site administrators.

(b) Education for cyberbullying prevention is a necessary and key element in addressing, preventing, and protecting students and teachers from cyber-related harm. It promotes positive, rewarding cyberexperiences and constructive interactions in an educational setting.

(c) Anti-bullying principles form the basis for appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying prevention. Education should involve:

  • i Modeling and demonstrating appropriate cyberconduct
  • ii Utilizing a whole school/whole community approach
  • iii Focusing on prevention, protection and intervention and,where possible, a restorative justice approach for violations.

(d) Teachers and members of the school community, including parents, should have ongoing access to learning opportunities that provide current, relevant education about evolving information and communication technology resources,
appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying prevention strategies. Programs should be offered by multiple stakeholders including school boards, the NSTU, the Department of Education and service/site providers.

(e) Principles, processes and actions for effective cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying education include:

  • i Developing educational materials in partnership with all stakeholders.
  • ii Disseminating educational materials about appropriate cyberconduct to the school community in its entirety.
  • iii Recognizing that educators, teachers, students, parents and the entire school community, including service/site providers, have a responsibility in working to eliminate cybermisconduct and cyberbullying from the teaching and learning environment.
  • iv Ensuring materials and information contain details that recommend guidelines for safe and appropriate cyberconduct, and outlines recommendations for response if targeted by cybermisconduct.
  • v Establishing consequences for engaging in cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying that negatively affects the school climate and/or culture.

(f) The NSTU believes teacher education programs should include:

  • i Comprehensive and current information about appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying prevention measures. This should include data, facts and realistic examples of occurrences.
  • ii Lesson plans and strategies that assist teachers to recognize and address cybermisconduct and cyberbullying in classrooms and school communities.
  • iii Information and practical experience with new and emerging information and communication technology.

(4) Each member of the education community exercises specific Roles And Responsibilities

(a) Students

  • i At home, at school and anywhere outside the school, students should follow principles of appropriate cyberconduct and adhere to principles and policies of acceptable use.
  • ii Students should advise the appropriate adult if they observe/know about another person being bullied or experience bullying themselves.
  • iii Students are encouraged to actively participate in and contribute to school board cyberconduct and anticyberbullying activities including policy development and education programs.

(b) Parents and Guardians

i Parents are encouraged to:

  • (1) Promote appropriate cyberconduct and anticyberbullying behaviour at home.
  • (2) Familiarize themselves with the information and communication technology and websites used by their child.
  • (3) Have an acceptable use agreement for the use of information and communication technology at home, which includes clearly identified and consistently enforced consequences.
  • (4) Keep computers and other information and communication technology devices in an open, common area and have filter software installed.
  • (5) Determine if the school board has a cyberconduct and/or anti-cyberbullying policy and review its contents. If such policies are not in place, parents should pursue having one adopted through their local parent advisory council.
  • (6) Actively participate in and contribute to school board cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying activities including policy development and education programs.
  • (7) Maintain open communication with children about appropriate cyberconduct and/or cyberbullying and treat any report(s) of bullying as a serious matter.
  • (8) Become familiar with and be alert for behaviour that indicates a child may be the target of a bully.

ii If a child is the target of a bully, assist him/her in determining the best response. Consult with the school board re: the board?s cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying policy and with the school staff for assistance.

(c) Teachers are encouraged to:

i Model appropriate cyberconduct
ii Adhere to their Professional Code of Ethics, and the school board?s appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying prevention policy.
iii Participate in Professional Development sessions to familiarize themselves with cyberbullying prevention processes, actions and responses related to cyberconduct and cyberbullying as part of their regular P.D. and in service opportunities.
iv Assess and appropriately respond to incidents of cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying among students or between student(s) and the teacher.

(d) Schools and School Boards are encouraged to:

i Collaboratively develop and adopt appropriate cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying policies and procedures and fully communicate them to all stakeholders.
ii Enable students to actively participate in and contribute to school board cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying activities including policy development and education programs
iii Develop principles of effective, appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying prevention policies and procedures that include:

  • (1) An Acceptable Use Agreement with an attendant monitoring, evaluation, and complaints process.
  • (2) Clear, comprehensive definitions of appropriate and inappropriate cyberconduct, established access privileges and identifiable consequences for those who engage in cybermisconduct.
  • (3) An explanation of the responsibilities of students, teachers, parents, and school boards re: cyberconduct.
  • (4) A statement that policies and procedures shall apply to any and all cybermisconduct and cyberbullying that negatively affects the school environment regardless of whether it originated from the school.
  • (5) Dedicated timelines for policy and procedures to be updated regularly.

(5) The Nova Scotia Department of Education should promote and publicly advocate for appropriate cyberconduct and anticyberbullying behaviour in the school community by:

  • (a) Developing and providing curriculum documents, training programs, policy and directives, and public education resources about appropriate cyberconduct and evolving information and communication technology.
  • (b) Amending the Education Act and Regulations to recognize the influence of information and communication technology and to provide explicit protection for teachers and students against cybermisconduct and cyberbullying.
  • (c) Providing sufficient resources to enable school communities to combat cybermisconduct and cyberbullying.
  • (d) Conducting its own research, or collaborating with ongoing research, about appropriate cyberconduct and cyberbullying.

(6) The Nova Scotia government should recognize the extreme impact that cybermisconduct and cyberbullying has in the public arena by:

  • (a) Requesting the Federal Government to make amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada and the Youth Criminal Justice Act which identifies that using information and communication technology to convey a message which threatens death or bodily harm or perpetuates fear and intimidation in another constitutes a punishable offence under the Code.
  • (b) Enacting new information and communication technology/cybermisconduct and cyberbullying legislation that protects teachers and students from harm.
  • (c) Amending the Occupational Health and Safety, Human Rights, and Workers Compensation legislation to include protection from cybermisconduct and cyberbullying.
  • (d) Conducting an annual ongoing public awareness campaign with partners focusing on appropriate cyberconduct and the prevention of cyberbullying.
  • (e) Co-ordinating the efforts of other Departments to support Education (Justice, Social Services, Health) in enhancing protection against cybermisconduct/cyberbullying and supporting the targets.

(7) Website, Internet Service Providers and telecommunications providers share a responsibility with respect to the appropriate use of the Internet and Communications Technology.

  • (a) Website, Internet Service Providers and telecommunications service providers should develop and enforce acceptable use, appropriate cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying policies, and ensure that the procedure for reporting cybermisconduct and/or cyberbullying is clearly communicated and readily available to users.
  • (b) Website, Internet Service Providers and telecommunications service providers should thoroughly investigate any complaints of cybermisconduct and cyberbullying and take the appropriate actions (removal of all items from all links, including archives) when there is evidence that cybermisconduct or cyberbullying is occurring within a site.
  • (c) Website, Internet Service Providers and telecommunications service providers should partner with the NSTU, Council of Atlantic Provinces Teacher Organizations (CAPTO), and the Canadian Teachers? Federation (CTF) to support and facilitate development and administration of appropriate cyberconduct and anti-cyberbullying initiatives.

Reference: Resolution 2008-NB1; Reaffirmed 2009-104