September 11, 2023
Bullying can happen in class, at the playground, in the neighborhood, or online. Know the signs to watch out for and what to do if your child is being bullied.
Bullying is common and the consequences can be tragic. Types of bullying include verbal bullying, cyberbullying, and physical bullying.
According to the Government of Canada, bullying is defined as “willful, repeated aggressive behaviour with negative intent used by a child to maintain power over another child" resulting in "a victimized child caught in an abusive relationship."
For more information about bullying, visit the Government of Canada website here: how to recognize bullying - canada.ca
Many children do not tell their parents they are being bullied, so it is important to know what to watch for. Pay attention to these signs:
If your child is being bullied, be supportive, help them deal with their feelings, and get help to stop the bullying.
Be the safe person they can rely on. Victims of bullying feel that their power, self-worth, and voice have been taken away and need someone they can turn to. Encourage them to feel heard by letting them know they can talk to you. Listen and tell them you love them.
Talking to a counsellor about bullying can be helpful for your child. An experienced mental health professional can give them tools to overcome it.
As tempting as it may be, do not encourage your child to retaliate and do not try to deal with the bully or their family yourself. You may want to consider enrolling your child in a self-defence class if they are being bullied physically.
Empathize with what your child is experiencing and feeling. Tell them you are there for them and what they are going through is not their fault.
Ask your child open-ended questions about whether someone is doing something that makes them upset, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. Once you have a general understanding of what is going on, find out who is doing it, whether it is in person or online, and when. Reach out to others who might know more.
Write down details and a timeline of what has happened; this might be difficult for your child to do in one sitting. Tell someone about it and ask if you are sticking to the facts without getting too emotional.
Find the anti-bullying policy for your child’s school and figure out what steps to take next. Find out how to report bullying and to whom to speak.
Figure out the best person to talk to; it might be your child’s favorite teacher, bus driver, cafeteria worker, or guidance counsellor. Ask about the social atmosphere at school, whether your child fits in, and if they are having problems with peers. Find out whether staff have seen the bullying and how they have responded.
Report the bullying to a teacher or the principal and share your child’s story and supporting documents. Be calm and stick to the facts so the school is more receptive to your concerns. Assume that the school is unaware of the bullying and do not accuse them of allowing it. Instead of making demands, ask the school to come up with solutions. Follow up with an email that describes what was discussed.
Choose a time and date to follow up with the teacher or principal and find out what actions will be taken. A follow-up plan also shows your child that action is being taken immediately and that there are plans to tackle the bullying until it stops.
Monitor the action the school takes and document any new incidents. Continue to provide support to your child.
If the bullying continues, contact the next person in the chain of command and share the facts you have collected. Include how you reported the bullying, who you spoke to, and what was done about it.
If the bullying involves criminal actions like assault, sexual assault, stalking, threats, hate crimes, robbery, theft, or date crimes, report it to the police.