Policies on Bullying and Harassment

Making your environment safer

Policies on bullying and harassment provide a roadmap for schools and organizations to confidently address these issues. Good polices also promote continuity and ensure that matters are dealt with in a consistent, fair way—so that everyone knows what is expected of him or her. Having clear policies on bullying shows everyone that the school or organization is acting in a safe and legally responsible manner.

Effective policies: Six key elements1

  1. Purpose, scope and application of the policy
    This should cover the school’s or organization’s values about bullying and harassment, and state exactly who and what situations are covered by the policy.
  1. Standard of behaviour
    This defines what behaviours are expected and what behaviours are unacceptable. Clear definitions of bullying and harassment need to be included.
  1. Procedures for receiving and reviewing complaints 
    These procedures must satisfy the legal requirements of procedural fairness; describe how the school or organization will respond to a complaint; show how the information will be gathered; and outline how the behaviour will be reviewed and how a decision about the behaviour will be made.
  1. Reporting systems and framework
    The systems and framework must be set up to be accessible to all children, youth and adults. People must know where they can report and how their report will be handled.
  1. Disciplinary sanctions
    This guideline should offer a range of sanctions and help the school  or organization apply those that are appropriate and fair for the particular situation.
  1. Appeal mechanism 
    This includes the recourse an individual may take if he or she is dissatisfied with the outcome. This section should also include reference to mediation routes.

The Canadian Red Cross’ Ten Steps to Creating Safe Environments online course offers concrete action steps to develop appropriate policies and procedures and reduce the risk of violence in your organization or community. Contact the Canadian Red Cross office nearest you, or email


1 Findlay and Corbett, 2001