Bullying and Cyber Bullying
The Ontario ministry of Education defines bullying as:
“Bullying is typically a form of repeated and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation.”
Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance and can take many forms. It can be:
- physical – hitting, shoving, stealing, or damaging property
- verbal – name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments
- social – excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumours about them
- written – writing notes or signs that are hurtful or insulting
- cyber - electronic (commonly known as cyberbullying). See below.
What can I do if my child is being bullied at school?
- Talk to your principal, if you would like to learn more about the services available through the school.
- School staff are expected to make every effort to fully investigate your concerns, while protecting students' privacy.
- Teachers should discuss bullying openly in class and help students understand the importance of respect, caring about the feelings of others, and friendship.
- Ask to see your school's code of conduct, which sets out how students, teachers, and other members of the school community should behave towards one another.
- Ask to see your school's bullying-prevention policy. The policy outlines what the school staff can do to solve the problem.
- All school staff must report incidents of bullying to the principal. School staff who work directly with students must respond to any incidents of bullying.
- If, after a reasonable amount of time, you are not satisfied with the school's response, you may contact the supervisory officer of your school board.
Cyberbullying involves the use of technology such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to intimidate or harass others.
- Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
- Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
- Creating a website to make fun of others.
- Pretending to be someone by using their name.
- Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
Youth – What you can do
If you are a victim of bullying
- Walk away/block or leave the online conversation.
- Keep track of the bullying (write it down and/or save a screenshot of the online message).
- Tell a trusted adult. If you don't trust anyone or need to speak with someone urgently, contact the confidential and toll-free Kids Help Phone.
- Report the bullying to school administrators.
- Report criminal offences, such as threats, assaults and sexual exploitation to police.
- Report unwanted text messages to your telephone service provider.
- Report online bullying to the social media site and block the person responsible.
If you know someone who is being bullied...
- If you feel it's safe to do so, tell the bully to stop what he/she is doing.
- Find friends/students/youth or an adult who can help stop it.
- Befriend the person being bullied and help them through the situation.
- Report it to a teacher or school staff.
Adults – What you can do
If you know or think that a child is a victim of bullying...
- Talk to them - Let them know that they can trust you and that they shouldn't deal with bullying alone.
- Help them:
- document the bullying;
- report unwanted text messages to their telephone service provider, or cyberbullying to social media sites;
- report the bullying to school administrators; and
- report criminal offences, such as threats, assaults, harassment and sexual exploitation to the police.
- Kids Help Phone offers counselling to students by phone and through their online counselling, information and referral services. As a result of a partnership with the Ministry of Education that began in 2005, Kids Help Phone has helped thousands of Ontario students.
- www.NeedHelpNow.ca is a great resource for teens and youth experiencing cyberbullying
- An easy to read infographic on 5 ways to help children deal with bullying compassionately can be found here: https://www.fractuslearning.com/2017/07/03/help-child-with-bullies/