Bullying Laws – Government
Bullying is Wrong and Hurtful
Being safe in relationships is a fundamental human right. Every child and youth has the right to be safe and free from involvement in bullying. Children in all three roles with respect to bullying – those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who know it is going on can be negatively affected. Negative effects include a lack of confidence in oneself and in others, which hurts relationships across the lifespan, thereby increasing risk for mental disorder, poor academic and vocational achievement, and criminality.
Canada has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Article 29, the Convention specifies that education shall be directed to:
The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of the sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.
As a society, therefore, we must educate children to ensure they develop positive attitudes and behaviours and avoid using their power to bully or harass others.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also addresses the rights of children who are at the receiving end of bullying and harassment. Article 19 of the Convention states:
Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Traditionally, concerns about child abuse have focused on abuse from an adult to a child. Research on bullying shows that we also need to protect children and youth who experience “forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse” at the hands of their peers. For every one child concerned about being sexually abused by adults, there are three children concerned about being beaten up by peers (Finkelhor, Assdigan, & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1995).
Protection Starts with the Adults in Children’s Lives
The responsibility to protect children from all forms of abuse, including bullying, is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and other adults in the community who are in contact with children and youth.
At home, parents are responsible for their children’s safety and well-being. Adults in school, on sports teams, and in community activities are all responsible for the safety and well-being of children and youth in their care.
Bullying is an issue of the human rights of safety and inclusion. Many children endure bullying on a daily basis. This type of abuse is a violation of human rights. All children involved in bullying require support to promote healthy development, positive relationships, and to protect their welfare.
In extending her patronage to PREVNet, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s Governor General wrote that “Finding ways of predicting and preventing the development of these relationship problems is a necessity. Bullying is not only about threats and intimidation; it is foremost about contempt and injustice.”
By promoting healthy relationships, we can prevent bullying and support children and youth in developing social skills, understanding and respect, social responsibility, and citizenship. PREVNet recognizes these attributes as the foundation for a cohesive, productive, and peaceful society.