Bullying is when someone intentionally does or says something to hurt another person. Often, this behavior is repetitive and deliberate. This is mostly done with kids, but also can be done with adults. Be aware of bullying.
Types of bullying: myths and facts
Myth: It is only considered bullying if someone pushes or assaults you
Fact: Bullying can take many forms such as:
- Physical Bullying: Hitting, slapping, shoving, tripping, spitting, throwing objects, blocking someone’s path; damaging, stealing, or withholding someone’s property
- Verbal Bullying: Insults, teasing, racism, threats, hurtful jokes
- Social Bullying: Excluding someone from an activity or group, ignoring someone, talking bad behind someone’s back, spreading rumours
- Cyberbullying: Using technology such as cell phones and the internet to blackmail, threaten, intimidate, insult, spread rumours, and post private/humiliating images and videos. Learn more about .
Myth: Bullying only happens at school
Fact: Bullying can occur anywhere children interact with one another. Bullying can occur in your own home while your child is on the computer. According to cyberbullying.org, a recent study has suggested that 99 percent of Canadian students have used the Internet and approximately 48 percent of Canadian students use it for at least 1 hour per day.
Myth: Bullying is a normal part of growing up
Fact: Bullying can have serious consequences, whether you are the victim, bully or bystander. These consequences can include
- emotional distress,
- substance abuse, and in extreme cases,
- suicide or engagement in criminal behaviour.
According to The Canadian Children’s Right Council, 1 out of 4 elementary school bullies have a criminal record by age 30.
General tips on how to prevent bullying
- Bullying often includes behaviour that is socially learned. Be a good role model and teach your children about respecting others regardless of their race, cultural/religious background, gender or ability.
- Check in regularly with your children whether it is at dinner or while driving to or from school. The most vulnerable years include transition from elementary to secondary school.
- Be aware of who your children are friends with and what they are doing online. Try to keep the computer in common areas so online activities can be monitored.
- Educate your children on the different forms of bullying and the consequences prior to it actually happening. Remind your children that they are part of the problem if they witness someone being bullied and do not say or do anything about it.
- Spend time with your children to help foster a trusting relationship. If your children trust you and know they have your support, it will be that much easier for them to talk to you when they have a problem.
- Keep in contact with other parents and school staff to stay informed on what is going on for your child.
- Encourage your son or daughter to join groups or clubs that can boost confidence and self-esteem and offer opportunities to strengthen peer relationships and form friendships.
What to do if your child is being bullied
There are signs that your child might be being bullied. Warning signs may include if your child
- avoids going to school or related social activities
- comes home with unexplained injuries or damaged/missing property
- has declining academic performance or difficulty concentrating
- has biological symptoms such as decreased appetite, complaints about stomach-aches or headaches
- has difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- has low self-esteem
- shows signs of depression or anxiety
Listen to what your child has to say. Thank them for coming forward, provide comfort and reassurance and try to remain calm.
Gather information and facts. Listen to all the facts prior to taking or offering any action.
Encourage your child to be assertive and to walk away and ignore the bully. Advise your child it would not be in their best interest to use physical force to deal with the situation.
Instruct your child to tell an adult if the bullying continues.
Look into obtaining support and resources for your child from a counselor, teacher, friend or spiritual leader. For a list of community resources visit bc211.
Report the bullying if the behaviour continues and work with your child’s school to develop a plan.
Enroll your child in activities that build confidence and positive self-esteem.
Contact the police if a crime has occurred. To make a report to the RCMP or local police.
What to do if your child is bullying others
Recognize the signs that your child may be bullying others. Warning signs can include
- aggressive behaviour towards people or animals,
- viewing violence or intimidation as a solution to problems,
- money and/or property that is unaccounted for,
- lack of respect for authority,
- difficulty concentrating in class,
- lack of empathy or compassion, and
- interaction with other people who are aggressive.
Stay calm and listen to what the school or police are telling you.
Get all of the details prior to forming an opinion. It may be hard to hear about your child’s disappointing behaviour, but try to remain calm, objective, patient and supportive.
Remind your children that it is the bullying that is unacceptable and not who they are as a person.
Discuss the issue with your child. Think of reasons why this may be happening.
Provide consequences for the behaviour.
Seek help and resources from school staff, community services, religious leaders or anyone else that you feel could be of support.
Provide opportunities to develop positive leadership skills.
Be a positive role model each and every day by demonstrating for your child what healthy relationships and interactions look like.
Additional resources on bullying
- BC 211
- Canadian Children’s Rights Council
- Public Safety Canada
- Canadian Red Cross
- Cerebal Palsy Guidance
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