Bill 56: An Act to Prevent and Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools

In order to make the various players more accountable with respect to bullying and violence in schools, on June 12, 2012, the National Assembly passed Bill 56, An Act to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools, which involves various amendments to the Education Act and the Act respecting Private education. Bill 56, which was tabled in the National Assembly in February 2012 by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, specifies the duties and responsibilities of the relevant school stakeholders and their partners. It also stipulates that school boards must see to it that each of their schools provides a healthy and secure learning environment that allows every student to develop his or her full potential, free from any form of bullying or violence.

Amendments to improve the Act were made following special consultations over the last few months and detailed consideration in the Committee on Culture and Education. Bill 56, An Act to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools, makes it possible to achieve the following objectives:

  • to define what constitutes bullying and violence in schools after consulting with experts in the field
  • to define the responsibilities and duties of students, parents, school staff, school principals, governing boards, school boards and the student ombudsman; this is now regarded as a collective and shared responsibility
  • to call to account a student who has committed an act of bullying, and that student’s parents
  • to require that every public and private educational institution adopt and implement an anti-bullying and anti-violence plan
  • to require that every school principal set up an anti-bullying and anti-violence team and designate a school staff member to coordinate its work
  • to require that every school board enter into an agreement with:
    • each authority responsible for a police force in its territory, to determine how the officers of that police force will intervene in an emergency or when an act of bullying or violence is reported to them
    • an institution or another body in the health and social services network for the provision of services to students after an act of bullying or violence is reported; the school board may also enter into an agreement with a community organization
  • to require each school board to state, in its annual report, the nature of the complaints reported to the director general by the principal, the corrective measures taken and the proportion of these measures for which a complaint was filed with the student ombudsman

In addition, the anti-bullying and anti-violence plan approuved by every public or private educational institution must, among other things:

  • include prevention measures to put an end to all forms of bullying and violence based, among other things, on racism, sexual orientation, sexual identity, homophobia, a disability or a physical characteristic, as well as prevention measures to encourage the collaboration of parents in putting and end to bullying and violence and in creating a healthy and secure environment
  • establish procedures for reporting or registering a complaint concerning an act of bullying or violence, or for reporting the use of social media or communication technologies for cyberbullying purposes
  • specify the actions to be taken when an act of bullying or violence is observed
  • define the supervisory or support measures to be provided to any student who is a victim of bullying or violence, as well as supervisory or support measures for the perpetrator or anyone witnessing an act of bullying or violence
  • determine specific disciplinary sanctions for acts of bullying or violence depending on the seriousness and frequency of these acts
  • specify the required follow-up on any report or complaint concerning an act of bullying or violence

Bill 56 is part of the government strategy to get all Quebeckers to join the fight against bullying and violence in the schools, introduced by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports on February 12, 2012. This strategy is made up of four components: mobilization, communication, legislation and action.