Ontario’s education sector increasingly recognizes that the creation of safe, inclusive and accepting school environments is an essential condition to ensure students’ wellbeing and academic success. Within our schools, we see a gamut of problematic interactions falling within the definitions of bullying, exclusion and harassment.
Far-reaching and sustainable bullying prevention is intricately connected to and predicated upon the promotion of equity and inclusion. Within our schools, our communities and society at large, bullying and harassment are linked to and fed by many forms of social inequity, including homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and many others.
We know, too, that the sources of these problems overflow the boundaries of our schools. How can we address and prevent problems that may derive from family interactions and mitigate negative influences within the dominant culture?
In order to develop a coherent and effective approach, it is crucial to understand the relationship as well as the distinction between – on the one hand – discrimination, harassment and assault targeting certain social groups (in school as well as in our larger society), and – on the other hand – bullying in all its forms.
Analyzing the power dynamics at their root enables us to understand how they are linked, and how they are distinct.