Is your child being bullied? Or being a bully?

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The issue of bullying in schools has become a growing concern. Consider these statistics*:

  • One in seven Canadian children aged 11-16 are victims of bullying
  • 25% of children in grades 4 to 6 have been bullied
  • Bullying occurs once every 7 minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom
*Data from Stopabully.ca. More statistics on bullying in Canada may be found here: Facts on bullying and harassment, Canadian Red Cross.

These numbers prove that bullying is a pervasive problem. This trend is not only seen in Canada, but in many countries all over the world. With the advent of social media, cyber bullying became an added threat to the well-being and safety of kids.

Is your child being bullied?

Newcomer children are especially vulnerable to bullying. They can be easy targets because they may dress or talk differently. They may also have a stronger need to belong. It’s important to let your child know that bullying of any kind is wrong. Teach them the steps to deal with it. They should know that it’s okay to let adults know when they are faced with such a threat. Knowing the signs that indicate that your child may be suffering from abuse is also crucial, since they may be scared to tell you. Some of these signs include (from Not in My School! Guidebook):

  • Unexplained bruises and scrapes
  • Change in behavior, especially in social situations
  • Symptoms of depression, anxiety, loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of specific locations such as a neighbourhood store, playground, or school
  • Crying before and after school or a group sport/recreational event
  • Feeling sick without being ill
  • Thinking about suicide, running away or quitting school or a team
  • Lack of interest in social events that used to be of interest
  • Unexplained broken personal possessions, loss of money or loss of personal items
  • Sudden disinterest in using their computer or cellphone

You can also watch this video from Aboutkidshealth.ca:

Is your child a bully?

Another way a hurting child may cope is to go the other way and become mean. If you suspect that your child might be a bully, watch out for these signs (also from the Not in My School! guidebook):

  • Change in usual behavior, especially in social situations
  • No lasting friendships; friends keep changing
  • Symptoms of anger, depression, anxiety, loneliness
  • Sense of entitlement; finds forgiveness difficult
  • Inappropriate, hurtful sense of humour
  • Hangs out at specific locations such as neighbourhood store, playground or school for no reason
  • Secretive; judgmental of others; blames others
  • Thinks about suicide, running away or quitting school
  • Lack of interest in social events that used to be of interest
  • Unexplained personal possessions, money, food
  • Sudden, secretive behavior when using a cellphone or computer
  • Communication from school with concerns on behavior

Watch this video from Aboutkidshealth.ca to learn more:

The best deterrent to bullying (and becoming a bully) is developing your child’s self-esteem. A child who is loved, taught discipline, and self-respect is able to deal better with the pressures of school and their peers.

This is why active involvement in your child’s life is crucial. It’s so important to know what happens to them at school. If you’re worried about bullying, learn about the school’s policies on anti-bullying. Talk to their teacher and ask for references. Also read What to do when your child is being bullied: 5 actions you can take for more information.

Also read: Helping your children cope with change for strategies to help your child adjust to a new environment.
 

Article updated August 22, 2023.

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Community Resources

The Kids Help Phone line (1-800-668-6868) is a national line for youth who need support. They can receive crisis support or counselling, or just chat with other young people about issues they are facing.

Helpful videos from Watch Well Cast on Ways to Stop Bullying and How to Beat Cyberbullies:

Read more about Cyberbullying and how it is now considered a crime in Canada. This site has important resources for parents and teens.

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