Canada: Nova Scotia Releases Task Force Report On Bullying And Cyberbullying

Last Updated: October 9 2012
Article by Meagan Jemmett, Student-at-Law

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

In Respectful and Responsible Relationships: There's No App for That, Professor A. Wayne MacKay, on behalf of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying, proposes an innovative legal, administrative, and educational framework to combat bullying among Nova Scotian youth. Prof. MacKay bases his recommendations on the principles of restorative justice and community responsibility. However, to date, the Nova Scotia Legislature has declined to implement the key elements of the Task Force's framework. At present, Nova Scotia still lacks a comprehensive strategy to address bullying and cyberbullying involving youths.

A recent series of youth suicides in Nova Scotia led to the creation of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying, chaired by Prof. MacKay, in May 2011. The Task Force gathered information, consulted with concerned parties, and made recommendations for legal, administrative, and educational measures to combat bullying. Educators who are interested in creating a healthy and respectful learning environment for their students will find the Task Force's Report to be timely, thoughtful and insightful.


The report, which was released on February 29, 2012, proposes a new legal definition of "bullying," recommends that such behaviour be treated as serious student misconduct, and argues that parents, educators, and other authority figures should be subject to legal duties to monitor and/or report bullying.

The Task Force observed that bullying is a significant, if still largely unreported, problem that dramatically impacts the lives of many individuals and burdens society with its enormous consequences. The Task Force stated that the problem of bullying seems to be growing. It indicated that the immediacy and broad reach of modern electronic technology has made bullying easier, faster, more prevalent and crueller than ever before. It stated:

"Technology has forever changed the nature and scope of bullying, making it more insidious that ever before and exposing everyone to potential vulnerability."

Dr. Wendy Craig explained in her Task Force presentation that cyberbullying is particularly insidious because it invades the home where children normally feel safe, and it is constant and inescapable because victims can be reached at all times and in all places.

Among other things, the Task Force proposed a new legal definition of "bullying":

Bullying is typically a repeated behaviour that is intended to cause, or should be known to cause, fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation or property.

Bullying can be direct or indirect, and can take place by written, verbal, physical or electronic means, or any other form of expression.

Cyberbullying (also referred to as electronic bullying) is a form of bullying, and occurs through the use of technology. This can include the use of a computer or other electronic devices, using social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites, e-mail or other electronic means.

A person participates in bullying if he or she directly carries out the behaviour or assists or encourages the behaviour in any way.

The proposed definition includes the role of bystanders and others who may encourage such behaviour. Such encouragement by others in a peer group is often the key and extremely harmful component of bullying.

The importance of including bystanders is emphasized by the extensive research that identifies the vital role of the bystander. The Task Force stated that it is the reaction and/or silence of the bystander that clearly tips the power balance in favour of the bully; it is also this reaction that supports the position that bullying is acceptable and even "cool" behaviour. According to the Task Force, "changing this attitude and value system is at the heart of reducing the problem."


The Task Force recognized that bullying and cyberbullying is a "large problem" which demands a multifaceted community response and one that is informed by the perspectives and insights of young people. The Task Force set out 85 recommendations which include preventative interventions, education to change the school climate and sweeping legislative and policy changes.

With respect to intervention programs and strategies, the Task Force recommended that interventions:

  • be evidence based;
  • engage the whole community;
  • provide and allow for more individual supports;
  • promote social and emotional learning;
  • be age and circumstances appropriate;
  • have a means of formal evaluation;
  • be cost effective and sustainable; and
  • be sensitive to adapt to the Nova Scotia context.

The Task Force noted that bullying is fundamentally a problem of "negative relationships where aggression is used to dominate a victim." The Task Force asserted that interventions should teach children and youth how to protect themselves against negative bullying interactions and how to come to the aid of others being bullied. The Task Force stated, "such interventions should start early, providing a foundation for relationships throughout childhood and beyond."

The Task Force also proposed to give school administrators the ability to combat bullying and cyberbullying that occurs while at school, at a school-related activity or in other circumstances where engaging in the activity will have a "detrimental impact on the school climate."

In addition, the Task Force recommended imposing certain duties on parents, guardians, educators, and support staff with regards to monitoring and reporting bullying. Since it is virtually impossible for educators to control students' online communications outside school, the Task Force would hold parents responsible for monitoring and reporting "cyberbullying." The Task Force suggested that parents be subject to a legal duty to:

"take reasonable steps to be aware of their children's online activities, at least to the extent that such activities may detrimentally affect the school climate, and to report relevant information to the school principal or other relevant staff."

Furthermore, the Task Force recommended that all school board employees should be obligated by law to report serious student misconduct to the school principal, including incidents of bullying and cyberbullying.


The Nova Scotia Minister of Education, the Honourable Ramona Jennex, introduced the Promotion of Respectful and Responsible Relationships Act (Bill 30) in April 2012. Bill 30 set out a number of amendments to the Education Act in response to the Report as well as public concern about the role played by bullying in recent adolescent suicides. Although Progressive Conservative Members of the Legislature introduced competing bills, Bill 30 was passed and came into force in May 2012.

Bill 30 made few substantive changes to the Nova Scotia Education Act. It mandates school boards to "collect and monitor data on severely disruptive behaviour of students, as required by the Minister." It also permits teachers and principals to impose discipline on students who engage in "disruptive" or "severely disruptive" behaviour, whereas the previous version of the Education Act referred to "disobedience" and "defiance." If this change is meant to explicitly authorize educators to discipline students for bullying others, it does so by generally broadening the definition of the type of student misconduct that merits discipline. It does not appear to target bullying or cyberbullying specifically.

In addition, the Nova Scotia government has delayed the appointment of an Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator, which was one of the critical recommendations of the report.

Bill 30 also gives certain powers to the Minister of Education that could be used to combat bullying between youth. Under Bill 30, the Minister can establish a provincial "school code of conduct" establishing "consequences for disruptive behaviour and severely disruptive behaviour, including incidents of bullying and cyberbullying." The Minister may also make regulations establishing a provincial student discipline policy and defining the terms "bullying", "cyberbullying", "disruptive behaviour", and "severely disruptive behaviour." As of August 2012, the Minister had not yet made such regulations.

To date, the Nova Scotia Government has declined to adopt the substantive recommendations of the Report of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying. However, this comprehensive and insightful report will be invaluable to educators and administrators as a source of information for schools and school boards across Canada and will provide clarity and direction for future government policy and legislation.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.