Bullying & 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.
The Internet has created a whole new world of social communications for young people who are using e-mail, websites, instant messaging, chat rooms and text messaging to stay in touch with friends and make new ones. While most of these interactions are positive, increasingly youth are finding themselves the victims of cyber bullying.
What is cyberbullying, exactly?
"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple harassment or cyberstalking.
It isn't when adult are trying to lure children into offline meetings, that is called sexual exploitation or luring by a sexual predator. But sometimes when a minor starts a cyberbullying campaign it involves sexual predators who are intrigued by the sexual harassment or even ads posted by the cyberbullying offering up the victim for sex.
Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Kids usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about the lewd language used by the kids than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts.
Cyberbullying may arise to the level of a Criminal Harassment charge depending on the age of the offender. Most of the time the cyberbullying does not go that far however it can result in a child losing their ISP or IM accounts as a term of service violation.
Chat clients like MSN and Yahoo are a common tool for students to harass, intimidate and threaten other students. In the schoolyard, bullies do exist, but they can be controlled when it is seen and reported quickly. However, on chat, students feel anonymous and say things that they would never say out loud or face to face.
We are seeing an increase in the number of offensive, harassing and intimidating material being posted on personal Web sites (i.e. embarrassing or naked pictures posted online, gossip and rumors, as well as threats and harassment).
How do I know if my child is being harassed, threatened or intimidated online? The warning signs are the same as in the real world:
Your child is withdrawn
There is a change in social peer groups
You notice a drop in grades
Your child does not want to go to school
What do I do if my child is being harassed online?
Ensure sure chat logging is turned on so records exist of all conversations
Do not delete threatening, intimidating or harassing e-mails or chat sessions. Police may not be able to identify the sender's identity if it is deleted.
Contact your child's school.
Contact Police. Make the Right Call!
Parent Issues to Address
Is the computer a babysitter for your child?
Is the Internet a family or learning activity? Can your child teach you something?
Who are your children's real friends? Who are their online friends? Get to know them!
- 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/