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Age 8 to 10

Everyone has been teased at some point in their life. It’s not usually hurtful when you’re being friendly or if you’re both doing it and it’s funny. But if you feel hurt and upset by what someone else is saying or doing, and they don’t stop when you ask them to, that can be bullying, especially if it happens over and over again.

Here are some examples of bullying:

  • Amanda is on the playground at school with her friends. Another group of girls is standing close by. They are pointing and laughing at Amanda and one of them calls her a loser. When she tries to join in their game, they all run away from her.
  • Jason is looking forward to lunch in the cafeteria and just when he gets close to the front of the line, Mark and his friends push in front of him. When Jason complains, Mark turns around, and shoves him backwards.
  • Jasmine opens her computer to email her best friend. She sees an email from an address she doesn’t recognize. She knows she shouldn’t open it, but she’s very curious, so she goes ahead. The email is full of mean and hateful things about Jasmine and her family and the country they came from.
  • Malcolm is at the pool with some friends. When he finishes changing to go home, he can’t find his backpack anywhere. He’s frantic, as his new iPod is in his backpack. He looks everywhere. Then he notices another group of boys from school watching him. They laugh as they leave the change room, tossing Malcolm’s backpack on the floor. He finds everything emptied out and his iPod wrecked after someone stepped on it.

What to do if I’m being bullied?

If you are being bullied, it is not your fault.

  • tell an adult you trust, whether it is your mom or dad, a teacher or maybe a school counsellor
  • try to ignore the bullying and walk away, when possible
  • call Kids Helpline at 1-800-668-6868 (it’s free to call)
  • if you are afraid someone will find out you told, report the bullying online – you don’t have to give your name

What do I do if I see someone else being bullied?

It can be just as bad to stand by and do nothing when someone else is being bullied as it is to be a bully.

  • if you can, ask the kid being bullied to come with you
  • go get help
  • tell a trusted adult, like your mom or dad or a teacher, if you see someone being bullied

If kids don’t speak up about bullying, it won’t stop.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is just another kind of bullying. It happens on your computer, in your email and on your cell phone.

  • sending nasty emails like Jasmine received
  • posting embarrassing pictures
  • making fun of someone online
  • sending mean text messages on your phone
  • saying mean or threatening things while playing games online

What do I do if I’m being cyber bullied?

  • don’t respond and block the sender, if possible
  • tell an adult you trust, whether it is your mom or dad, a teacher or maybe a school counsellor
  • save any emails, texts or postings
  • call Kids Helpline at 1-800-668-6868 (it’s free to call)

More places to find help

Age 11 to 18

Getting picked on seems to be part of growing up. But some people cross the line between harmless teasing and joking with friends, to hurtful, repeated harassment and worse.

By the time you reach high school, you have certainly seen bullying and may have even experienced it yourself. Maybe you were excluded from certain groups or activities, maybe someone tried to shove you in a locker, maybe a boy read your private love note to all of his friends.

People who are considered “different” are often targets of bullies, ranging from a boy who may be small for his age, to a girl with a different skin colour, to a student who may choose not to do drugs, to someone who is, or is believed to be, homosexual.

But, who gets to decide what is “different” and why is “different” a bad thing? You may not be bullied today, but what if someone decides you’re “different” tomorrow?

Types of bullying

Social bullying is very common, especially with girls. Gossiping, spreading rumours, excluding people and trying to make others look laughable are all examples.

Hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, spitting and punching would all be considered physical bullying, but so would stealing or destroying someone else’s belongings.

Verbal bullying includes insults, name-calling, threats and sexist, racist or homophobic comments.

The most common form of bullying these days is cyber bullying, and includes cruel emails and texts, posting embarrassing and sometimes altered photos online, creating websites to mock others and pretending to be someone you are not to get them in trouble or ruin their reputation.

Relationship bullying is making fun of or insulting your boyfriend / girlfriend, forcing them to do things they don’t want to do and sharing private or personal information with others.

Sexual harassment makes you feel uncomfortable about your body or sexuality and can include uninvited and/or unwanted touching, sexual comments, homophobia, spreading rumours about someone’s sexual reputation or forcing someone into an intimate act, like kissing or touching.

What to do if I’m being bullied?

  • walk away and get to a safe place
  • tell a trusted adult – your parent, teacher, principal, school liaison officer or counsellor
  • keep track of the bullying – write down dates and any witnesses
  • if you are being bullied online, don’t delete anything – take a screenshot if it is on someone else’s Facebook page or other social media that you have no control over
  • if you’re being bullied via text messaging, don’t reply or respond to the messages and report the abusive text to the service provider for your phone or electronic device; if the text messages are threatening in any way, save the message and contact your local police agency to report them
  • report online bullying to the social media site – block the person responsible

There are three important things to remember if you are a victim of bullying:

  • you are not alone
  • it is not your fault
  • it can be stopped

What can I do if I witness someone being bullied?

If you are the one feeling sick to your stomach when you see a group of boys picking on another boy or when someone is the victim of a cruel prank, chances are you are not the only one. Often, it takes just one person to step in and say something. Not only are the people standing by and watching giving the bully the attention he desires, but they are adding to the victim’s humiliation and, in effect, contributing to the bullying.

It can be difficult to step up and say something. If you feel you may be in danger if you speak up, you should leave and get help. If you are concerned the bully may target you, you can ask to remain anonymous. You can now report bullying online anonymously.

Talk to the victim and encourage them to seek help – let them know you will back them up.

No one deserves to be bullied. You can do something about it.

Bullying and the law

Even though bullying can be a traumatic experience for the victim, it isn’t always a crime. But some kinds of bullying should definitely be reported to police.

  • If someone threatens you, it is a crime. Whether it’s done face to face, over the phone or through text messaging, call the police.
  • If someone assaults you – including pushing, tripping, slapping, hitting or spitting – you need to call the police.
  • If your things, like your backpack, books, electronic devices, etc., are being taken, it is a crime. Call the police.
  • Harassment is also a crime. If someone is repeatedly tormenting you with texts, phone calls and/or email, call the police.
  • If someone shares video or photos of crimes being committed, such as assault, they can be charged. Sharing video or photos with nudity of people under 18 can also result in charges. Call the police.
  • If someone is bullying you because of your ethnicity or your sexuality, it is considered a hate crime. Call the police.

More information

What can parents do?

It can be heartbreaking for parents to know their child is being bullied. All they want to do is protect their children from all the hurts in life. Few people make it through childhood without some kind of teasing, but when teasing becomes continual, cruel and upsetting, it goes too far and becomes bullying.

According to the Bullying Canada website, the four most common types of bullying are:

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, scape-goating, 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

Signs your child is being bullied

  • withdrawal from family and friends
  • a drop in grades
  • torn clothing or unexplained bruises
  • not wanting to go to school
  • needing extra money or supplies
  • taking toys or other possessions to school and regularly “losing” them
  • unusual bed wetting

What can you do to help your child?

  • Having a conversation about bullying is a good start. Give your child the chance to talk about what is happening and take their complaints seriously. If they are unable to talk about it with you, find them another adult or a counsellor they are willing to confide in.
  • Assure them it is not their fault and you are not going to take away their internet or cell phone.
  • Determine the type and severity of the bullying before deciding on a course of action. If there is violence involved, notify the school and the police may need to investigate.
  • Teach them how to resolve arguments without violent words or actions, such as using humour to diffuse a situation.
  • Teach them how to walk confidently and how to stand up for themselves by being assertive and telling the bully to go away.
  • Understand that in most circumstances, the best plan is to walk away from a confrontation.
  • Let your child’s school know and discuss options with the teachers, caregivers and school counsellor. Most schools have a strict “no tolerance” policy on bullying.

What can you do if your child is the bully?

Most bullies act out of feelings of insecurity, anger or loneliness. Talk to your child’s school counsellor or a child psychologist to find appropriate strategies to use at home to help your child.

Depending on your child’s age, you may want to increase your supervision of their activities and interactions involving other children.

It’s important to take it seriously. The bullying behaviour is not likely to stop unless you take action. Ask for help.

Cyber bullying

Kids today seem to spend more time online than they do watching television, which has provided another avenue for bullying to take place. Unlike a child who is bullied at school, cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day every day. The good news is that this type of bullying often leaves behind evidence and doesn’t rely on your child’s word against their bully’s.

Examples of Cyber Bullying

  • posting nasty things about someone on Facebook and other websites
  • sending abusive texts, emails or instant messages
  • creating websites to harass and torment someone

Tips for Dealing with Cyber Bullying

  • Have your child save and print copies of all relevant texts, emails and other communication, as well as save voicemails.
  • Your child shouldn’t respond to the bullying and should block contact, if possible.
  • Ensure your child’s privacy settings are the highest on Facebook and other social networking websites and that they have not provided their personal details online, such as their date of birth, their address, phone number or even the school they attend. Remind them never to share their passwords.
  • Report any cyber bullying to the website they are on, as well as your Internet Service Provider.
  • Like other types of bullying, if the cyber bullying crosses the line and becomes harassment, involves threats or is a hate crime, it’s time to call the police.

Bullying and the law

Most incidents of bullying are not actually illegal, but you should report the following to your local police:

  • Hate crimes – if your child or their property is targeted because of their race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, that is classified as a hate crime
  • Assault
  • Robbery or Theft
  • Harassment and Threatening – incidents that take place over a prolonged period of time that causes your child to fear for their safety. It can include being followed, unwanted communication and threats.

What exactly is TikTok?

It’s a really good idea to learn about the online world your children are spending so much time in. If you don’t have a lot of confidence or knowledge about some of the social networking or gaming sites they visit, here are some suggestions:

  • ask your child to tell you about the sites
  • visit the library or your local book store and ask for book recommendations
  • talk to the parents’ committee at your child’s school and see if they will bring in an expert to speak with parents