As a Cultural Leader

 

Offer safe and respectful programs and services.

 

Learn to spot bullying, abuse, harassment or discrimination

The first thing to realize is that these types of behavior are more common than you might think. They may happen in any social situation, as well as online. They might not happen right in front of you, but you may notice that things are not right for your participants, volunteers or employees.

If you suspect bullying, abuse, or harassment, watch for:

  • Unexplained marks or injuries;
  • Uncalled for insults made by one individual to another;
  • Unexplained absences;
  • Notable changes in behavior – such as increased anger or isolation
  • Notable changes in personality – depression or anxiety

There are many online resources that can help you and your team identify and prevent situations of bullying, abuse or harassment:

If you are concerned about discrimination, watch for:

  • Individuals being left out of programs
  • Individuals treated differently from others in group activity;
  • Inequities in service to different individuals based any grounds covered by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

Take action when needed.

If the information relates to potential abuse of a child by the child’s parent or guardian, the person must report it to child welfare or police.  If the concern involves potential abuse by any other person, the individual should report it to the child’s parent or guardian and may also be obligate to report it to child welfare and/or police if the person is aware that the child’s parent/guardian has not or will not take action to protect the child.

If there is no immediate danger, consider steps to take.  These should be outlined in your organization’s policies and procedures.  They may include:

Speak to the victim to assess the situation.  If the participant is a child, include another adult in the conversation, and parents and/or authorities should be contacted immediately.  Learn to handle situations with trauma-informed inquiry, to reduce triggers and ensure that any past or cultural influences are considered.

Advise the victim to speak to a parent or seek expert support.

Access any program/service elements that could have contributed to the situation; acknowledge and amend as needed.  Ensure policies are updated to address future incidences.

It is important to consider the individuals and their cultural backgrounds in these situations. Sensitivity and trauma-informed consideration is required.

If you are uncertain about any of these situations, call the SaskCulture Respect Resource Line – 1-888-329-4009 for help or advice.

If a participant, volunteer or employee is being bullied or harassed:

Speak with the individual privately, with another adult in the room.  Be supportive by listening and asking questions.  Identify all parties involved in the situation and the behavior identified as bullying or harassment.

Advise the individual to share the situation with their parents, if they are not aware.

As a leader, you may be in the position to resolve a bullying or harassment issue.  Be respectful of the individual’s privacy, but speak to all parties involved.

If you are uncertain of the steps you should take, contact the SaskCulture Respect Resource Line at 1-888-329-4009.

If a participant, volunteer or employee is being abused:

First of all, child protection laws in Saskatchewan state that anyone who knows or suspects that a child is being abused must report this to the appropriate child protection or criminal justice authority.  Trust your instincts.  You do not to have proof to report child abuse. Do not worry about whether the couple or person will be angry with you for calling.  You don’t have to give your name if you are afraid for your own safety.

If it is an adult, take the time to speak with them privately. Be supportive by listening to them and asking questions about how they are doing.

Encourage individuals to access services, such as helplines.

If any form of abuse take place between participants in a program/lesson, make sure you speak with individuals and determine if further action should be taken.  Offer specific help.

If you want to report abuse, there is no immediate danger, ask local police or child/adult protective services to make a welfare check.

If you are uncertain of the steps you should take, contact the SaskCulture Respect Resource Line at 1-888-329-4009.

If a participant, volunteer or employee claims they are being discriminated against:

Speak with the individuals involved, either together or separately.

Identify all the factors in a situation where someone may be discriminated against.  Determine if any of the factors are identified as “grounds” in the Human Rights Code identified by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Identify where change is needed – do policies, programs, service parameters need to be changed?  Do staff or volunteers need to be trained?

If no change can be accommodated, speak with individual or individuals involved and explain the situation from your organization’s perspective.  Possibly a solution can be found that would prevent any claim with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Implement policies to handle bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.

There are several key elements to consider when developing or updating any risk management policies involving children and/or youth participants of learners.  Things to include in your policy:

Criminal record and Vulnerable sector screening for all adults (volunteer and paid) will have contact with children.

Reference checks required for volunteers and staff, regardless of prior history with organization.

Codes of Conduct for staff, volunteers, board members, etc., which are comprehensive, are instituted and used by all.  These codes should reference child and youth safety and also detail unwanted behavior by adults.

Codes of Conduct for children and youth participants developed and implemented;

Education on child abuse, bullying and participant safety are provided on an ongoing basis to all adults involved with programs and services;

Education on the proper Codes of Conduct on bullying/harassment/discrimination are provided to children and youth in programs;

Rule of Two instituted, whereby adults meeting with children or youth must always ensure that another adult is present;

A social media policy for all (adults, children and youth) is created, distributed and enforced;

Cultural organization/s boards provide their membership with clear information about ow to bring forward a complaint;

Policies and procedures are in place that receive and handle complaints against: staff, participants (adult and youth), and volunteers.

All volunteer boards should ensure that policies and procedures are followed in ALL CASES and that transparency around this process is provided to staff, membership and participants.

Developing effective anti-bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination policies and procedures for Cultural Organizations:

Cultural organizations may choose to adopt and adapt policies and procedures from the many well-crafted templates that are publicly available through national cultural organizations or other bodies.  Or, they create their own.  It is good practice to consult a lawyer when drafting effective fair and open policies and procedures for receiving and handling complaints or disputes (including those of abuse, harassment, bullying and discrimination). 

Here is a simple list of elements that (at a minimum) should be included in such policies and procedures:

  • Begin with a statement of intent. This might be a paragraph which describes the purpose of the policy and the goals of the organization in creating such a document.
  • Provide a clear definition of misconduct. In the early portion of the policy there should be a statement that clarifies the organizations intention to ensure that the affected environment is safe for all (particularly minors). This statement would be accompanied with a description of unwanted behaviours that may be addressed through the policies and procedures, for example abuse, bullying, hazing, harassment, discrimination etc. If the governing body (the Board) wishes to provide examples of these unwanted or prohibited behaviours it should be made clear the examples are not an exhaustive list.
  • Identify how to report alleged misconduct. This section of the policy describes the process for bringing forward a complaint, who should receive the complaint and who may make a complaint. Sometimes the person designated to receive and guide a complaint is a staff person with the organization while in other cases this may be a specifically designated member of the board.
  • Identify the initial process on receiving a complaint. The person designated to receive the complaint (sometimes referred to as a complaint manager) now has a responsibility to do one of three things with the allegation: dismiss the complaint immediately as obviously frivolous or vexatious, refer the complaint to the appropriate local criminal justice or child protection body, or begin the organizations established internal process of resolving the complaint.
  • Identify the internal process. This part of the policy could refer to procedures that need to be taken for the complaint.  The first step in an internal process involves conducting an investigation into the allegations brought forward. Also, early on in this process the respondent (the person being complained about) should be informed of the complaint. An investigation involves speaking with (or gathering written statements) from anyone who may have information that is relevant (witnesses etc.). If the complainant (the person making the complaint) is a minor, organizations need to take care in how their statement is gathered – if interviewed in person ensuring that another adult is present. At the end of the investigation a report is presented to whatever body has been designated to hear the complaint and make decisions.
  • Explain the Determination process. The policy should state clearly what kind of body will hear the complaint. This may be a sub-committee of the board or some individuals not on the board but perhaps associated with the organization. It is unwise to have the entire board as the body who receives the report and conducts a hearing. The hearing may also be conducted by a single individual.  A hearing may be in person, by phone conference or in a written form. Both the complainant and respondent should be present. Other parties may be heard as deemed appropriate. Minors should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Explain how the Determination will be conveyed. This section of the policy describes how (once determined) the determination regarding fault is conveyed to the governing body (the Board) along with recommended (if any) penalties or discipline. A range of possible penalties or disciplinary measure can be described here but, again, should not be exhaustive. The board then communicates the findings to the complainant and the respondent and enforces any and all disciplinary measures.
  • Identify the Appeals process. The document should allow for either of the parties to appeal the findings. Specific grounds for appeal need to be outlined here and it should be stated that “simply not liking the decision is not grounds for an appeal”. The Board itself could hear the appeal or another body created by the board.
  • Retaliation. Finally, the policy should have a section at the end which states that there will be no retaliation against any of the parties to the complaint for bringing forward or responding to the concern. It may also be useful to state that any retaliation will be taken seriously and may form the grounds for a complaint.

Notes:

Time Lines: Time lines should be established in writing and adhered to for each stage of the process. Any substantial deviation from those must be communicated to the complainant and the respondent.

Inclusive Language: Policies should be written in such a way that all feel included and addressed. Pronoun use should be avoided.

Resource Line help: SaskCulture has provided a Resource/Support line for members where guidance is offered regarding making and managing of complaints. Toll Free 1-888 -329-4009.

Sample: SaskCulture's Abuse and Harassment Policy

Promote Resources to Help Victims.

In order to help eliminate bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination in cultural programming, it is up to us to all to promote healthy, safe environments.

Steps you can take:

Promote SaskCulture’s Respect Resource Line to leaders in your network.  Electronic advertisements are available here for download.

Participate in days that promote anti-bullying and harassment, anti-discrimination.