Bullying happens when someone purposely and repeatedly says or does hurtful things to someone else. Bullying can occur one on one or in a group(s) of people. There are many different forms of bullying:
- Physical: Physical bullying is using your body or objects to cause harm. Examples include hitting, punching, kicking, spitting or breaking someone else’s belongings.
- Verbal: Verbal bullying is using words to hurt someone. Examples include name calling, put-downs, threats and teasing.
- Social: Social bullying is using your friends and relationships to hurt someone. Examples include: spreading rumours, gossiping, excluding others from a group or making others look foolish or unintelligent. This form of bullying is common among girls (Canadian Children’s Rights Council).
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is using technology (such as a computer or a cell phone) to hurt someone. Examples include sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages, posting embarrassing photos online, creating websites to make fun of others or pretending you are someone else by using his or her name (Public Safety Canada).
- One out of four elementary school bullies have a criminal record by the time they’re 30 (Canadian Children’s Right Council).
- A Canadian study suggests that 8% of students between grades 9 and 12 reported being bullied on a weekly basis (Public Safety Canada).
Why does it happen?
People who bully will find any insignificant reason to pick on someone. Bullies may choose to do so because:
- They think it will increase their popularity;
- They consider violence as a way to defend themselves or get revenge;
- They are jealous, or looking for attention;
- They may be bullied themselves;
- They want to try and scare others (Tel-Jeunes).
What you can do
If you are a victim of bullying…
- Try to stay calm. Often, bullies are just looking to get a reaction from you.
- Remove yourself from the situation as soon as it is safe to do so.
- No one deserves to be bullied and you should not have to tolerate being treated like that. Talk to someone about what is going on. Tell a friend, your parents, a teacher or trusted adult about what is going on.
- Document what is happening to you. If you choose to talk to your local police service, this documentation will come in handy.
If you have witnessed someone being bullied…
- Speak up if it is safe to do so. Often, all it takes is one person to step in and say something to stop someone from bullying.
- Get help or tell someone. Offer to go with the person who was being bullied to talk to someone about what they experienced. A little support can go a long way!
If you bully others…
- Realize that your actions affect and hurt others. Your actions may also land you in trouble with your parents, your school and even the law.
- Ask yourself why you bully. What is it you are hoping to accomplish? Can it be accomplished in a more positive way?
- Seek out other ways you can be a leader and take control over your life without hurting others. You could get involved with sports teams, school groups or community activities instead.
To help deal with bullying…
- Stand up against bullying – convince your friends to as well;
- Talk to teachers or your principal about bullying and what actions your school is taking to prevent and deal with bullying;
- Suggest an open meeting about bullying in your school or community, as others may have ideas or suggestions about the topic but feel as though they have no safe place to express themselves (Kids Help Phone).
If other issues are bothering you, talk to someone about it. Tell your parents, a teacher, counsellor or trusted adult about how you are feeling.