My child is being bullied at school. Does the school have to help?
Question & AnswerMy child is being bullied at school. Does the school have to help?
5. Understand the plan to stop the bullying
School boards must have plans to stop bullying when it happens. If a school has a website, the plans must be available on that site.
The school must offer programs and supports to both the bullied student and the bully.
After a school puts a plan in place, teachers and school officials must monitor the situation closely so that bullying doesn’t happen again. If the plan doesn’t work, they must adjust the plan.
If there is something specific you want the school to do, such as switching your child to a new class, you can talk to the principal.
Types of supports and programs
If the bullying does not cause serious harm, then only a few supports and programs may be needed. For example, the teacher or principal could help the bully write an apology to the other student. Or they could give the bullied student strategies that empower the student.
If the bullying causes more serious harm, then the supports and programs may be more involved. Most school boards have a department responsible for student safety and support services. You can talk to your local school board officials to find out what options are available in your school board and in your community. Examples include:
- social workers
- child and youth workers
- special education teachers
- Indigenous counselors
- sexual assault centres
- community agencies and programs
Bullying can have long-lasting impacts on children and adults. If your child has been bullied, pay attention to their behaviour.
If you are worried about your child’s mental health, you can contact the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) at 1-800-463-2338.
If your child is old enough to use the phone, Kids Help Phone offers counselling over the phone or online. They can also refer you to other programs and services. You can reach them at 1-800-668-6868.
Taking legal action
Usually you can find a solution to a bullying problem by working together with school officials. But in rare cases you may consider taking legal action. If you think that the school is not properly dealing with your child’s bullying, you may be able to:
- make a claim to the Human Rights Tribunal, if the bullying is because of discrimination.
- sue the school board or principal in court
Where a specific teacher or principal has been involved in the bullying or refused to address the bullying, you may be able to complain to the Ontario College of Teachers, which is the organization responsible for disciplining teachers and principals for not acting professionally.
If you are the student, you can contact Justice for Children and Youth at 1-866-999-5329 to get advice from a youth rights lawyer.