Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying | Ophea Teaching Tools

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    Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying

    The Healthy U video, for ages 15–18, provides us with a look into the life of a student blogger at a party. While Digital Citizenship is not addressed throughout this resource, this video provides an excellent teachable moment for youths' critical thinking of their life online.

    In order to support children and youth as well as educators in maintaining a safe and inclusive learning environment free from bullying and harassment in real life and online, a variety of policies have been put in place by the Ontario Ministry of Education.[1]

    Foundations for a Healthy School

    Ontario’s Foundations for a Healthy School resource promotes and supports child and student well-being. It encourages the integration of healthy schools policies, programs and initiatives into school and school board planning and implementation processes. The resource aligns with the K – 12 School Effectiveness framework by including five interconnected areas:

    • Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
    • School & Classroom Leadership
    • Student Engagement
    • Social & Physical Environments
    • Home, School & Community Partnerships

    Planning and implementing activities relating to these five areas will help schools, school boards, parents and community partners work together to take a comprehensive approach to address priority health topics (e.g. physical activity or mental health) in their community.[2]

    Safe Schools Act — Bill 212

    New legislation added to Ontario’s Safe School Act and effective February 1, 2010, Bill 212 — Keeping Our Kids Safe at School Act, recognizes bullying and cyberbullying as offences for which a student can be suspended or expelled from school.[3]

    Bill 212 requires all school staff to respond to and report incidents of bullying/cyberbullying that occur both ON and OFF school property.

    On School Property:

    • racist comments or behaviours
    • sexist comments or behaviours
    • graffiti
    • vandalism
    • any incident that has a negative impact on the school climate

    Off School Property:
    Bill 212 further extends the right of educators to discipline students for actions that take place off school property and are not associated with the school but where these actions have an impact on school climate.

    Example: cyberbullying that occurs after school hours but affects a student’s attendance at school.

    Bullying Prevention and Intervention — Policy/Program Memorandum 144[1]

    School Level Plans

    School boards must require all their schools to revise their existing school-wide bullying prevention and intervention plans as part of their School Improvement Plan. Components of these plans must include the following:

    • The definition of bullying
    • Prevention and awareness-raising strategies
    • Intervention and support strategies, including plans to protect victims
    • Reporting requirements
    • Training strategies for members of the school community
    • Communication and outreach strategies
    • Monitoring and review processes

    Safe Schools Teams

    Each school must have in place a safe schools team responsible for school safety that is composed of at least one student (where appropriate), one parent, one teacher, one non-teaching staff member, one community partner, and the principal. An existing school committee (e.g., the healthy schools committee) can assume this role. The chair of the team must be a staff member.

    Resources for Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying Information:

    There are many resources available for educators to help further your own knowledge of Internet Safety and to assist you in broadening the learning of children and youth.

    • Get Cyber Safe: Get Cyber Safe is a national public awareness campaign created to educate Canadians about Internet security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online. The campaign's goal is to bring together all levels of government, the public and private sectors, and the international community to help Canadians be safer online. To learn more visit
    • Media Smarts: MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. Their vision is that children and youth have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.To learn more visit

    [1] Ontario Ministry of Education. (2012). Policy/program memorandum no. 144. Retrieved from

    [2] Ontario Ministry of Education. (2014). Foundations for a healthy school. Retrieved from

    [3] Legislative Assembly of Ontario (2007). Bill 212: An Act to amend the Education Act in respect of behaviour, discipline and safety. Retrieved from