Direct Support Is Available
Our team of highly-trained volunteers is here just to help people like you. Simply pick up your phone and dial:
and follow the prompts to access the Support Team for your location.
*Currently our Support Line is available through BullyingCanada for Canadian youth. We are in the process of capacity building to launch the Support Line in the United States with BullyingUSA. Contact us for plans to expand elsewhere.
What is bullying?
Many children have a good idea of what bullying is because they see it every day! Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending themselves. So, everyone needs to get involved to help stop it.
Bullying is wrong! It is behaviour that makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable. There are many ways that young people bully each other, even if they don’t realize it at the time.
Some of these include:
- Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically
- Spreading bad rumours about people
- Keeping certain people out of a group
- Teasing people in a mean way
- Getting certain people to “gang up” on others
- Verbal bullying – name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative references to one’s culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments.
- Social Bullying – mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.
- Physical Bullying – hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings, unwanted sexual touching.
- Cyber Bullying – using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone.
Bullying makes people upset. It can make children feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. Children can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. It may even make them sick.
Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Some of these include:
- Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.
- Panic Attacks
- Not being able to sleep
- Sleeping too much
- Being exhausted
If bullying isn’t stopped, it also hurts the bystanders, as well as the person who bullies others. Bystanders are afraid they could be the next victim. Even if they feel badly for the person being bullied, they avoid getting involved in order to protect themselves or because they aren’t sure what to do.
Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment, and criminal behaviour later in life.
Bullying can have an effect on learning
Stress and anxiety caused by bullying and harassment can make it more difficult for kids to learn. It can cause difficulty in concentration and decrease their ability to focus, which affects their ability to remember things they have learned.
Bullying can lead to more serious concerns
Bullying is painful and humiliating, and kids who are bullied feel embarrassed, battered and shamed. If the pain is not relieved, bullying can even lead to consideration of suicide or violent behaviour.
More than one third of adolescent students report being bullied. Nearly half of parents have reported having a child that is the victim of bullying. Studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.
In the majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support the bullying behaviour.
Here are a few concrete actions you can take:
- Walk away
- Tell someone you trust – a teacher, coach, guidance counsellor, parent
- Ask for help
- Say something complimentary to the bully to distract him/her
- Stay in groups to avoid confrontation
- Use humour to throw off or connect with your bully
- Pretend that the bully isn’t affecting you
- Keep reminding yourself that you are a good person and are worthy of respect
Instead of ignoring a bullying incident, try:
- Tell a teacher, coach or counsellor
- Move toward or next to the victim
- Use your voice – say “stop”
- Befriend the victim
- Lead the victim away from the situation
- Talk to a teacher or counsellor
- Think about how you would feel if someone bullied you
- Consider your victim’s feelings – think before you act
- Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries. 
- At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently. 
- Among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years. 
- 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying. 
- Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth. 
- The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth. 
- Girls are more likely to be bullied on the Internet than boys. 
- 7% of adult Internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life. 
- The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims. 
- 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis. 
- Canadian Council on Learning – Bullying in Canada: How intimidation affects learning
- Molcho M., Craig W., Due P., Pickett W., Harel-fisch Y., Overpeck, M., and HBSC Bullying Writing Group. Cross-national time trends in bullying behaviour 1994-2006: findings from Europe and North America. International Journal of Public Health. 2009, 54 (S2): 225-234
- Kim Y.S., and leventhal B. Bullying and Suicide. A review. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. 2008, 20 (2): 133-154
- Bully Free Alberta – Homophobic Bullying
- Statistics Canada – Cyber-bullying and luring of children and youth
- Statistics Canada – Self-reported Internet victimization in Canada
- Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26
Myth #1 – “Children have got to learn to stand up for themselves.”
Reality – Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying they’ve tried and can’t cope with the situation on their own. Treat their complaints as a call for help. In addition to offering support, it can be helpful to provide children with problem solving and assertiveness training to assist them in dealing with difficult situations.
Myth #2 – “Children should hit back – only harder.”
Reality – This could cause serious harm. People who bully are often bigger and more powerful than their victims. This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression. Adults have the opportunity to set a good example by teaching children how to solve problems by using their power in appropriate ways.
Myth #3 – “It builds character.”
Reality – Children who are bullied repeatedly, have low self-esteem and do not trust others. Bullying damages a person’s self-concept.
Myth #4 – “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you.”
Reality – Scars left by name-calling can last a lifetime.
Myth #5 – “That’s not bullying. They’re just teasing.”
Reality – Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.
Myth #6 – “There have always been bullies and there always will be.”
Reality – By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to change things and create a better future for our children. As a leading expert, Shelley Hymel, says, “It takes a whole nation to change a culture”. Let’s work together to change attitudes about bullying. After all, bullying is not a discipline issue – it is a teaching moment.
Myth #7 – “Kids will be kids.”
Reality – Bullying is a learned behaviour. Children may be imitating aggressive behaviour they have seen on television, in movies or at home. Research shows that 93% of video games reward violent behaviour. Additional findings show that 25% of boys aged 12 to 17 regularly visit gore and hate internet sites, but that media literacy classes decreased the boys’ viewing of violence, as well as their acts of violence in the playground. It is important for adults to discuss violence in the media with youth, so they can learn how to keep it in context. There is a need to focus on changing attitudes toward violence.
Source: Government of Alberta