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Bullying: Legislation, Policy or Both?

Description

The introduction of legislation which makes it unlawful to engage in any form of bullying conduct.

Terms of Reference

The Law Reform Commission has placed the subject of bullying in schools and the workplace on its agenda and has commenced research into this issue. This research will culminate in an Issues Paper which will examine the public policy response to bullying and determine the benefits and limitations of anti-bullying legislation.

Bullying is a relational problem that impacts the social climate of a school community and the workplace environment. It is indeed a serious issue that has been linked to depression, violent behaviour and suicide. From all indications, increased awareness and media coverage has created stakeholder interest in addressing this problem. Bullying is no longer considered “just part of growing up”, rather, it is now being described by some as an epidemic.

It is in this regard that the Commission believes that it is timely that we examine the policy responses to bullying and to explore the prospect of formulating legislation to provide clear definitions of bullying behaviour, mandate the need for policies, assign responsibility and empower educators and employers with disciplinary tools.

However, in our examination of this issue we will bear in mind that while legislation may provide a supporting context to deal with bullying, it cannot regulate and repair school yard or workplace relationships. The complex nature of bullying may indeed require direct intervention from parents, students, educators and employers.

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