According to Bullying Canada at least 1 in 3 adolescent students have reported being bullied while nearly half of all Canadian parents indicate their child has been a victim of bullying.
Other studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.
Bullying can be devastating, leaving children withdrawn, shy, and insecure as they are more likely to develop physical, emotional, and psychological scars that can last a lifetime. Kids who are frequently bullied often do poorly in school due to loss of focus and confidence, suffering from other related issues like inability to fall asleep at night.
But it also extends further, as innocent bystanders can easily become fearful that they will also be victimized. Not to mention, bullies who get away with their aggressive behaviour are more likely to carry this into adulthood.
What are the most common types of bullying
Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, so long as both kids find it funny. It’s when this teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and is no longer acceptable.
As a parent, it’s important to help our children understand that if someone intentionally torments in a physical, verbal, or psychological way, the effects can be serious and affect kids' sense of safety and self-worth.
This ranges from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting lunch money and belongings. Some kids bully by scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating through public gestures, shunning or spreading rumors about them. As kids get older, they often use the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, or make fun of peers.
Remember It's important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to "tough out."
Kids against bullying
As a parent, we can help our children by giving them advice on how to best handle situations and by encouraging them to always:
Speak up when they see bullying
Reach out to others who are bullied
Be a friend whenever they witness someone being victimized
Treat everyone as an equal and with respect
As a family, discuss the importance of practicing inclusivity to enable your child to better connect with those who may come from a diverse background, are vulnerable from physical or development challenges as they often feel left out. Together, we can change a child’s perspective to be non-judgemental and more empathetic as someone’s differences or disability does not define them nor diminish their friendship.
What to do as a parent
Sometimes kids feel like it's their own fault, that if they looked or acted differently it would not happen to them. Often they're scared that if the bully finds out that they spoke up, it will get worse.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, start a casual conversation — ask what's going on at school, during lunch or recess, or on the way home. Based on the responses, ask if anyone's been mean to her or him.
Emphasize the value of open, ongoing communication with yourself and with teachers or school counselors. Make it a regular routine to talk with your kids about how their day went and also take time to teach your kids about self-respect, reinforcing how everyone deserves to be treated well.
Make sure they know there are people who love and care about them.
Try focusing on developing their talents and interests in music, arts, sports, reading, and after-school activities so your kids build relationships outside of school.