Newest tip: I Am Safe Newsletter May 2013
1 (613) 296-5245.
I am Safe: Bullying Awareness
NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are
both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have
never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember
One-stop parent guide to address bullying in Ontario’s public schools
The London Free Press – April 26
Your child is being bullied at school – what do you do? Which school official do you start with and what
legislation is on your side? Or what if your kid is the one doing the bullying – what are the signs, and what
sort of conversation do you need to have?
A one-stop parent guide to address bullying in Ontario’s publicly funded schools has been jointly released by
the London and York Region anti-bullying coalitions, and it’s getting good reviews from experts. “There is a
lot of helpful information in there. It’s always good to have a parent’s voice out there,” said Peter Jaffe, a
Thames Valley District school board trustee, psychologist and anti-violence advocate. “No matter how wellintentioned
we are from a school board perspective, there’s concern that we’re not giving parents the whole
story. Parents trust other parents.”
The London Anti-Bullying Coalition was created eight years ago by moms whose kids were being bullied.
The London moms mentored those who eventually began the York Region Anti Bullying Coalition. “It gives
parents a guide that will empower them to advocate for their child,” said Corina Morrison, one of the
founders of London’s coalition. “It’s good to have a guide so you don’t have to be on the same hamster
wheel we were on eight years ago.”
The 34-page document outlines the profiles of a typical bully, victim and bystander, outlines legislation that
governs bullying in schools and tells parents where they should start – and what steps to take – if their kid is
being bullied. “The stories that have come our way have been overwhelming,” Morrison said. “We prepared
this guide because we envision a community that respects all differences, one in which every child and adult
experiences the fundamental human right to feel safe.”
The Thames Valley District school board supports the handbook. “Our priority is the safety of our students,”
said Barb Sonier, the superintendent in charge of safe schools. “Any resources that we can put in the hands
of parents that can help reduce bullying in our schools and our community is something we support.”
Find the guidebook:
Ten Tips for Administrators to Address Bullying in School
Bullying is one of the most serious issues facing educational institutions today. It can lead to school
violence, a more negative school climate, and potential legal actions from parents. As a school
administrator, you have the opportunity to address school bullying on all levels of a student's experience. By
leading your school or district in bullying prevention efforts, you can help create a safer, more positive
1. Focus on the social environment of the school.
To reduce bullying, it is important to change the climate of the school and the social norms with regard to
bullying. It must become "uncool" to bully, "cool" to help out students who are bullied, and normative for staff
and students to notice when a child is bullied or left out. This requires the efforts of everyone in the school
environment- teachers, administrators, counselors, other non-teaching staff (such as bus drivers, nurses,
school resource officers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and school librarians) parents and students.
2. Assess bullying at your school.
Adults are not always very good at estimating the nature and extent of bullying at their school. Frequently we
are quite surprised by the amount of bullying that students experience, the types of bullying that are most
common, or the "hot spots" where bullying happens. As a result, it is often quite useful to assess bullying by
administering an anonymous questionnaire to students about bullying. What are the possible benefits of
conducting a survey of students? Findings can help motivate adults to take action against bullying.
Data can help administrators and other educators tailor a bullying prevention strategy to the particular needs
of the school. Data can serve as a baseline from which administrators and other educators can measure
their progress in reducing bullying.
3. Garner staff and parent support for bullying prevention.
Bullying prevention should not be the sole responsibility of an administrator, counselor, teacher-or any single
individual at a school. To be most effective, bullying prevention efforts require buy-in from the majority of the
staff and from parents.
4. Form a group to coordinate the school's bullying prevention activities.
Bullying prevention efforts seem to work best if they are coordinated by a representative group from the
school. This coordinating team (which might include an administrator, a teacher from each grade, a member
of the non-teaching staff, a school counselor or other school-based mental health professional, a school
nurse, and at least one parent) should meet regularly to digest data from the school survey described in
Strategy 2; plan bullying prevention rules, policies, and activities; motivate staff, students, and parents; and
ensure that the efforts continue over time. A student advisory group also can be formed to focus on bullying
prevention and provide valuable suggestions and feedback to adults.
5. Train your staff in bullying prevention.
All administrators, faculty, and staff at your school should be trained in bullying prevention and intervention.
In-service training can help staff to better understand the nature of bullying and its effects, how to respond if
they observe bullying, and how to work with others at the school to help prevent bullying from occurring.
Training should not be available only for teaching staff. Rather, administrators should make an effort to
educate all adults in the school environment who interact with students (including counselors, media
specialists, school resource officers, nurses, lunchroom and recess aides, bus drivers, parent volunteers,
custodians, and cafeteria workers).
Continued on the following page
Ten Tips for Administrators to Address Bullying in School (Continued)
6. Establish and enforce school rules and policies related to bullying.
Although many school behavior codes implicitly forbid bullying, many codes do not use the term or make
explicit our expectations for student behavior. It is important to make clear that the school expects them to
be good citizens, not passive bystanders, if they are aware of bullying or students who appear troubled,
possibly from bullying. Developing simple, clear rules about bullying can help to ensure that students are
aware of adults' expectations that they refrain from bullying and help students who are bullied. School rules
and policies should be posted and discussed with students and parents. Appropriate consequences also
should be developed for not following the school's rules.
7. Increase adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs.
Bullying tends to thrive in locations where adults are not present or are not vigilant. Once school personnel
have identified hot spots for bullying from the student questionnaires, look for creative ways to increase
adults' presence in these locations.
8. Intervene consistently and appropriately in bullying situations.
All staff should be able to intervene effectively on the spot to stop bullying (i.e., in the 1-2 minutes that one
frequently has to deal with bullying). Designated staff should also hold sensitive follow-up meetings with
children who are bullied and (separately) with children who bully. Staff should involve parents of affected
students whenever possible.
9. Focus some class time on bullying prevention.
It is important that bullying prevention programs include a classroom component. Teachers (with the support
of administrators) should set aside 20-30 minutes each week (or every other week) to discuss bullying and
peer relations with students. These meetings help teachers to keep their fingers on the pulse of students'
concerns, allow time for candid discussions about bullying and the harm that it can cause, and provide tools
for students to address bullying problems. Anti-bullying themes and messages also can be incorporated
throughout the school curriculum.
10. Continue these efforts over time.
There should be no "end date" for bullying prevention activities. Bullying prevention should be woven into
the entire school environment.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news my
mother would say to me, “ Look for the helpers. You will always see
people who are helping”.
When I was a boy and I
would see scary things in
the news my mother
would say to me, “ Look
for the helpers. You will
always see people who
Sticks and stones: Defeating the culture of bullying and rediscovering the power of
character and empathy
Emily Bazelon, Random House
Sticks and stones
who has been praised for her
honest coverage of a teen suicide case in Massachusetts, 2010, where six students were
accused of causing the suicide through bullying and were criminally charged. The small town
became a media sensation, and the term ‘bullicide’ was coined. Bazelon came to investigate and
discovered a different story to that being spread by the media. This book is an expansion of her
reports. She examines bullying and defines what behaviour constitutes it and what does not, from
the playground to cyberspace. The stories of three children, two bullied and one bully, are
portrayed, mainly to discuss appropriate adult intervention. Bazelon also showcases two schools
that have reduced bullying and examines their successful strategies. The book has been praised
as compassionate though some critics question her amount of empathy for ‘bullies’.
New Report Recommends Best Anti-Bullying Practices
The American Educational Research Association issued a new report Tuesday recommending
best practices and policies for schools and colleges to address bullying.
Prevention of Bullying in
Schools, Colleges and Universities
includes 11 briefs addressing topics such as gender-related
harassment, legal rights related to bullying, and school climate. The AERA task force that wrote
the report was asked to identify the causes and consequences of bullying, highlight training
opportunities for faculty and staff, evaluate the effectiveness of current bullying prevention
programs, and asses the connections between legislation and current bullying research and
"Bullying — a form of harassment and violence — needs to be understood from a developmental,
social, and educational perspective," the report reads. "The educational settings in which it occurs
and where prevention and intervention are possible need to be studied and understood as
potential contexts for positive change. Yet many administrators, teachers, and related personnel
lack training to address bullying and do not know how to intervene to reduce it."
Humour Styles and Bullying in
Schools: Not a Laughing Matter
There is a clear link between children’s use
of humour and their susceptibility to being
bullied by their peers, according to a major
new study released by Keele University.
What the study shows is that humour clearly
plays an important role in how children
interact with one another and that children
who use humour to make fun of themselves
are at more risk of being bullied."
Funded by the Economic and Social
Research Council and supported by the
University of Strathclyde and Oxford
Brookes University, the research examined
the links between how 11-13 year olds use
different styles of humour and the problem
of bullying in schools.
The findings reveal that children who use
self-defeating forms of humour – eg. Selfdisparaging
language / putting themselves
down to make other people laugh - are more
likely to be bullied than those who use more
positive forms of humour.
The study also found that peer victimization
led to an increase in the use of selfdefeating
humour over time, showing that
victims of bullying are often trapped in a
vicious cycle, where being bullied deprives
them of the opportunities to practice positive
humour with peers and leads them to rely on
self-defeating humour, perhaps as a way to
get others to like them.
Dr Claire Fox, lead researcher from Keele
University, said, “What our study shows is
that humour clearly plays an important role
in how children interact with one another
and that children who use humour to make
fun of themselves are at more risk of being
bullied. We know that this negative use of
humour is a nurtured behavior, influenced by
a child’s social environment rather than
genetics. This makes the behaviour easier
to change, so we hope the next step for this
study is to see whether it is possible to
‘teach’ children how to use humour to
enhance their resilience and encourage
them to not use negative forms of humour.”
The two year study involved 1,234 children
who were questioned at the beginning and
end of each school year. Researchers
measured three types of bullying and
victimization: verbal, physical and
relational/indirect (e.g. social exclusion,
spreading nasty rumours) and used selfreports
and peer nominations to draw their
conclusions. Each child was also assessed
in relation to their number of friends, humour
styles, symptoms of depression and
loneliness and self-esteem.
For more information visit:
or Kate Dawson
For a limited time Hazelton is offering the Olweus Bullying Prevention
Program core and supplemental materials at an incredible 35% discount.
This includes the OBPP School wide and Teacher Guide, two resources
rarely offered at a discount and never at a price this low.
Simply use the Promo Code Yes35 when placing your order.
Please call 1-800- 328-9000 or Audrey Lease at (651) 213-4699 –
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Based in Ottawa, Canada, Kids-Can
serves Canada from Coast-to-Coast. We
are pleased to be associated with:
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For more about KIDSCAN we invite you
to visit us at www.kids-can.ca.
You can also find more at
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling +1 (613) 296-5245.
will bring parents and others up to date on the current nature of bullying in
schools. Emily Bazelon is an attorney and senior editor at
ANTI-BULLYING RESOURCES AND TIPS
ANTI-BULLYING RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND STUDENTS:
- the school Principal or a trusted adult
- PREVNET (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence): PREVNET.ca
- kidshelpphone: 1-800-668-6868
- Parents Lifeline of Eastern Ontario (PLEO): www.pleo.on.ca
- Children's Mental Health Ontario: www.kidsmentalhealth.ca
- Open doors for Lanark children and Youth: www.opendoors.on.ca Distress line at 1-800-465-4442
- Child & Youth Wellness Centre of Leeds & Grenville www.cywc.net 1-613-498-4844
- Parents for Education.ca
Stu Schwartz, aka Stuntman Stu, battles bullies one school at a time
OTTAWA — Young Stu Schwartz was impeached as Grade 8 student council president for failing to deliver on his promise — “Hey kids, pop and chips!” — to bring vending machines to his school. After his shameful downfall, the daily torment began.
The 13-year-old was roughed up after gym class, bashed into lockers, had his textbooks kicked out of his hands.
He was called: “Fag. Loser. Jew boy.”
He struggled to get by by playing the class clown, but he hated school, and many days he did not want to go.
After two years of suffering, Schwartz, near tears, pleaded with his principal to make it stop. Schwartz grew up to become Stuntman Stu, an Ottawa institution. A sought after radio announcer, of late with Majic 100’s morning show, he is also the voice of the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place, and emcee and auctioneer for many charities.
The bullying was a stinging memory he kept to himself.
Then one day last September he read a story in the Citizen about a Grade 12 student who was driving with two friends near Nepean High School in Ottawa’s west end. They were throwing eggs at Grade 9 “frosh” when the driver’s vehicle hit the back tire of a student walking his bike.
“It triggered some pretty strong emotions for me,” Schwartz says now. “I talked about it on the morning show. I told listeners that I had been bullied and I was sick of the whole thing. Parents started calling in upset, too.”
After the show, he kept his outrage going on social media. Around lunchtime, he tweeted, “I’m so fed up with this, if I have to go out to every school in Ottawa and preach No More Bullies I will.” He wrote the Twitter hashtag #nomorebullies. Then he scrawled the same three words on his hand, took a picture, and circulated it on Twitter.
The No More Bullies tour was born.
Last Tuesday, Schwartz, along with the Majic 100 morning show’s Trisha Owens and Angie Poirier, presented No More Bullies to Grade 7 and 8 students at Notre Dame Catholic High School.
It was the team’s sixth presentation. They have fielded more than 500 requests to speak to mostly area schools about bullying. Most requests come from Majic 100’s listener base, parents and teachers concerned about the consequences of bullying that they witness daily among children.
Schwartz is among many high profile Ottawans reacting to the documented swell of bullying incidents at schools, as well as to the tragic October suicide of 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, an A.Y. Jackson Secondary School student who was viciously bullied.
But as Schwartz realizes, just telling his own story is not enough.
The Majic 100 morning show team added experts from Youth Net, a mental health program for youth housed at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and the Red Cross, to their tour. City councillor Allan Hubley, in a recorded interview, speaks about his son Jamie. University of Ottawa student Scott Heggart joined the tour to talk about feeling suicidal in Grade 7 when he realized he was gay and his experience of “coming out” to classmates in Grade 11.
The Majic 100 team plans to dedicate most Tuesday mornings to visiting schools.
In general, Ottawa is celebrity poor, so having No More Bullies appear at your school is a bit like having the local equivalent of Ryan Seacrest or Perez Hilton show up.
Schwartz asked the students to shout out the names of their favourite Senators (Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Chris Phillips) before performing a rousing, goal scoring play-by-play naming all three.
Ten students were also called to the auditorium stage, and each given a piece of paper.
Angie Poirier asked the students to crumple up the paper, throw it on the floor and stomp on it. They were then urged to open it up and try to smooth it out.
“You’ve treated that paper pretty badly, haven’t you?” she said, pointing out the wrinkles and scars.
Now imagine if that paper was a person, she said.
“No matter how hard you try to smooth it over after the fact, the jabs and insults will remain on the person forever.”
That was a key message. The wounds you inflict today turn into scars.
That’s why a 37-year-old man was in front of 250 students describing events of 25 years ago.
Schwartz told the students that only reluctantly did he name his tormentor to the principal. The principal confronted the bully and asked him why he’d been harassing Schwartz. He says he’ll never forget the answer.
“The bully said, ‘I don’t know.’ I’d been tormented for two years and that was his answer. ‘I don’t know!’”
The students were attentive and engaged, and sometimes near tears, especially when Hubley’s interview was played and he spoke of Jamie, “different on the outside, beautiful on the inside,” and in near whisper, said “that’s my boy.” There was hushed silence, too, when Heggart described wanting to kill himself when he was exactly their age.
By the time the show was over, Schwartz had the students shouting “No More Bullies” before racing out of the auditorium with bands emblazoned with the same rallying cry on their wrists.
Afterward, Notre Dame chaplain Maureen Dufour explained that the presentation was a complement to the many strategies the school uses to combat bullying.
“Every school can’t do enough in terms of upping the ante about being vigilante about bullying.” She noted that cyberbullying is a significant problem that regularly draws police to many area high schools, including Notre Dame.
That said, she was concerned about the presentation’s emphasis on suicide as a consequence of bullying, especially for middle school students.
“When your message focuses on the extreme end of the consequences, you might miss that piece about what to do when you are first bullied and you start to feel depression,” she said. She said those concerns were validated in the days following, when she “debriefed” students in all 11 classes who attended the presentation.
“It was right there, the worry that if they are bullied it will lead to suicide. Three students had enough courage to bring that up and ask about it,” she said. So she focused on the continuum of feelings, and on getting help immediately.
But she said the most powerful aspect of the presentation was Stuntman Stu, himself. He had “come through it, and rose above it,” not only to become a public figure, but to want to help others “work through it.”
Schwartz is hopeful No More Bullies will make a difference, if only to a few students.
“I have two young kids, and I never ever want them to go through what I suffered.”
What to do with a bully:
Distract, disrupt, offer him some junk food.
Erin deJong, of the Red Cross, told Notre Dame students there are many strategies for “bystanders” to stop bullying.
She said they could “distract” or “distrupt” a bully, and that might mean offering them food, or telling them what they’re doing “isn’t cool.”
She also encouraged them to “report what you see.” And “by all means, support the victim.”
Maureen Dufour, Notre Dame chaplain, said students said afterward that this advice was extremely helpful and hopeful.
She also encouraged them to get help through the Youth Services Bureau, and their crisis line.
Faron Gogo, the Youth Engagement Co-ordinator for Youth Net, housed at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, described to the students the many consequences of bullying, from anxiety and depression to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. She also talked about the stigma of seeking help. She asked students whom they might tell if they were being bullied. A friend was the number one choice.
“Who do you think the second most likely person is that you would tell?”
The students suggested a parent, teacher or counselor.
“The second highest is ‘no one.’” Many students tell no one.
IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM:
The Youth Services Bureau crisis line is (613) 260-2360. www.ysb.on.ca
Survey details impact of bullying:
A survey, commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and released this week from Harris/Decima reveals the extent, and harmful effects, of bullying. It showed:
— Half of Canadian adults polled were bullied as a child or teen.
— Nearly a third of those think the abuse they suffered caused lasting harm.
— 89 per cent think bullies pose a serious threat to the long-term well-being of children and teenagers.
— 95 per cent of adults surveyed believe people have a responsibility to take action to reduce bullying.
— 85 per cent feel that providing children and teenagers who abuse others with a volunteer mentor is an effective way to reduce bullying.
Anti-bullying programs: This societal issue is being addressed directly by the Board and each of its schools. The following is a sample of programs in our schools:
In a recent edition of the T.I.E.S newsletter by Principal Pam Little
I read a great a wonderful bit of advice
on bullying by Anthony Wolf, a
psychologist and author. As your
Principal, I know that bullying is a big
concern to you as parents here at TIES
and in schools across North America.
Parents will often ask how they can
help. Most students that bully are just
regular kids who will grow up to be
normal adults. They do not think of
themselves as doing anything wrong
when they engage in cruel behaviour.
Often their excuse is “I was only
teasing” When you hear from the school
staff that your child has been teasing
someone, you need to sit them down
and have a talk. Your talk could go like
this. “Johnny, I want to talk about
teasing. When you say something that
makes fun of someone, they always
hate it. It always causes them pain
and it is always cruel and always
wrong. You may think that is only in
fun but you are causing them pain.
They may say that it doesn’t bother
them but you never know that deep
down, they may be hurting. And
because you never know whether you
are causing them pain, it is never ok.”
“Kids should not toughen up to
bullying. Teasing is bad. It hurts. So
don’t tease, don’t bully.”
Last year, Teacher Jim Palmer and his students placed third for their timely video "C2BMe" (Confident To Be Me). the video makes the statement that we all have secrets and that these secrets do define us. The secret is the spectre of mental health in all of us. This is a very timely addition to the growth of mental health literacy within the UCDSB and serves the main purpose of removing the stigma of mental health issues. (N.B. Bullying is one of the factors that contribute to some mental health issues among children. So, thus the reason for noting this event.)
Gananoque Secondary School
Oct. 21, 2011: Today Theatre Complete presented a powerful anti-bullying message to all the students at GSS. Students from QECVI in Kingston wrote and performed the 45 minute presentation. Each performer admitted to having a personal experience with bullying. The group stated that each had been a victim, a bystander and a bully at some point in their life.
The performance creatively covered the complexity of bullying.
Yes, there was some strong language. Language we don’t tolerate in school but language that we know exists and that our students hear. The choice to use the language, and my decision to allow it, came because it was used to inform, educate and to solicit empathy. If your child comes home and brings this to your attention, I ask that you discuss their feelings about it and ask them if, and when, they have heard that language being used. Ask them how it made them feel to hear it.
As a community we need to nurture empathy, confront bullying and develop acceptance of others.
I find Barbara Coloroso to be a great resource to learn about bullying and what we can do. Her book, “The bully, the bullied, and the bystander” provides a great deal of insight and a number of practical strategies for parents, educators and kids. You can check out her website at: http://www.kidsareworthit.com/
Front of Yonge P.S.
Last year, a group of Grade 8 students promoted a program for their own school as well as presenting at other schools. It was entitled "CBN2S Cyber Bullying Needs To Stop". The students gave a PowerPoint presentation and talked about the importance of thinking before you send out a message into cyberspace. They showed students how to edit their Facebook privacy settings and played an interactive game where they demonstrated how quickly a Facebook status update can be seen by many people. The group also discussed the three main roles in cyberbullying - the bully, victim and bystander.
The Wired World: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
On Tuesday, May 3, the Brockville Family of Schools sponored an open house for parents, students and the community entitled The Wired World: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.
The evening began with a feature presentation by guest speaker Peggy Sweeney, senior communications consultant with the Ontario Principals’ Council. She discussed what social media is and how children are using it, and looked at some popular sites such as YouTube and Facebook. She will also talked about what actions parents should guard against, such as their children posting inappropriate pictures on the Web and the associated consequences. Peggy's presentation has been made available with the permission of the Ontario Principal's Council.
Grade 8 students from Front of Yonge Elementary School presented as part of their CBN2S - CyberBullying Needs to Stop campaign. Sandra barr from the Leeds County OPP detachment and Tom Reil from Brockville Police Services were on hand discussing the dangers of Internet fraud, cyber predators and cyber bullying.
Thanks to the RipNET, Kelsey's Restaurant and Just Jewelry for their donation of the door prizes and the TISS Hospitality program for providing the refreshments.
More can be found at this site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cbn2s/154139034639509
James thomas made an awareness presntation to the Gr. 8 class on the issue of mental health/youth suicide. The Grade 8 class had a mental health Fair on May 24, 2011.
Diverse articles which may assist and inform:
The battle against bullying
by Cynthia Ross Cravit, 50Plus.com
Bullying is not child's play. A look at the serious harm bullying can cause -- and ways you can help to protect the youngsters in your life.
More from 50Plus.com:
Cases of bullying -- and their all too often horrific consequences – have received a lot of attention in the news recently. And for good reason: the recent rash of teen suicides as a result of bullying reveals that the bullies operating in our schoolyards and classrooms go well beyond the occasional teasing or unruly behavior usually associated with 'kids just being kids'.
Bullying, by contrast, happens when someone intentionally hurts, scares or attacks another person -- verbally or physically -- over and over again, often on a daily basis.
And bullying has taken on a particularly modern twist. For kids who are being bullied, the pain often doesn't end when they leave school, but the insults and personal attacks continue even in the safety of their homes. Increasingly, bullying is happening online or electronically -- a practice known as cyberbullying .
Using the Internet, mobile phones or other cyber technology, cyber bullies employ a number of techniques such as:
-Sending mean, vulgar or threatening messages via text, email, or instant messages.
-Posting nasty, private, untrue or compromising pictures or messages about others in social networking sites, blogs, chat rooms, discussion groups or on websites.
-Using someone else's user name to spread rumours or lies about someone.
Beyond hurt feelings
And for the victims, bullying goes way beyond hurting feelings or temporarily damaging reputations. Not surprisingly, bullied kids are more likely to struggle with their studies -- when they show up at school (children who are bullied are more likely to skip classes). But the effects of constant bullying and harassment are even more serious and can lead to increased risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, alcoholism, smoking, drug use and even suicide and death.
So just how pervasive is bullying? In Canada, between 50 – 75 per cent of students report being bullied, according to the Canadian Safe School Network. This means that for every two students, one of them is being bullied, and in some cases, for every 4 students, 3 are being bullied.
And bullying is not just a problem that kids face. According to Public Safety Canada, 'grown-up' bullies are often responsible for workplace and sexual harassment, as well as marital and elder abuse. (See Dealing with bullies in the workplace.)
Who is most at risk?
Surveys have shown that schoolyard bullies often choose targets they perceive to be weak, unattractive or in some way, 'different'. People with learning disabilities are often targeted, as well as racial, religious and ethnic minorities.
Also, a great deal of bullying is directed at students who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bisexual. In fact, the National School Climate Survey in the US (2005) found that three-quarters of the high school students surveyed heard derogatory and homophobic remarks "frequently" or "often" at school. Of the participants, 90 per cent reported hearing the term "gay" used to imply someone is stupid or something is worthless.
Among students who identified themselves as gay, 90 per cent had been bullied in the past year. Of these, 66 per cent had been verbally abused, 16 per cent physically harassed, and 8 per cent had been assaulted. Gay students reported feeling unsafe at school three times more often than non-gay students. (For an intimate look at the pain and emotional toll of bullying, see Bullying: 10 years of terror .)
Tips for busting bullies
So what can be done? Many schools have implemented anti-bullying policies, and experts say there are ways that parents, family members and friends can also help children become more bully-resistant. Here are some tips for dealing with bullies:
Keep the lines of communication open. Victims need to understand that if they are being bullied, it is not their fault. Sometimes children, and especially teens, are embarrassed to admit they are being bullied, so look for non-verbal cues as well. Signs of bullying could include coming home from school with unexplained bruises, cuts or scratches, a pattern of missing or damaged belongings, unusual anxiety or moodiness and an unexplained fear of going to school or taking part in organized activities with peers.
Take bullying seriously. Children should know that you consider persistent bullying a serious matter, not a rite of passage or something that kids should be able to settle among themselves. If the bullying is happening at school, contact the school immediately and set up a meeting to deal with the matter. Most schools have anti-bullying policies in place, so you should fully expect them to take action -- and for the bullying to stop.
Talk about ways to defuse the situation. There are tactics kids can use to help them deal with bullies, experts say. These include:
-- Ignore teasing by turning their heads or walking away, and try not to get upset or show any hurt feelings. At times, humour can also defuse the situation.
-- Don't respond to cyberbullying. Just as with face-to-face bullying this should be reported to the school.
-- Be assertive, but not aggressive. A child certainly has the right to stand up to a bully and, for instance, say, "Stop it!" -- but should not retaliate by using fists or insults. The latter can actually make the situation worse, and get your child in trouble along with the bully.
-- Avoid the bully. While it may seem unfair to ask your child to change his class schedule or route to school to avoid a bully, experts say that making a plan of action can make a child feel empowered. Children can also work with teachers to devise a safety plan to ensure they avoid any unsupervised areas of school.
-- Boost self-esteem. Being bullied can be devastating to self-esteem. Looks for ways to highlight your child's talents, contributions and achievements. Community activities, classes and groups can provide opportunities to socialize and build self-confidence, particularly if a child is socially isolated at school.
-- Stand up for other victims. Even if they hate bullying, bystanders often encourage it by watching, laughing or even joining in. Kids can – and should - stand together against the bullies, and they should report any incidents of bullying to an adult.
ON THE WEB
Sources: Public Safety Canada; Red Cross; Canadian Safe School Network; US Department of Health and Human Resources.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Christopher O Driscoll
BCI and TISS hosted a presentation by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group on May 25, 2011 entitled "Youth suicide: Rocognize Risk and Talking About It".
How we’re helping to make Ontario’s
The effects of bullying go beyond the
school yard. As a parent, here’s what to
watch for, what you can do, and where
you can go to get help.
What is bullying?
Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent,
and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual
or individuals that is intended to cause (or should
be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm
to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem,
Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real
or perceived power imbalance.
Definition of bullying from
Policy/Program Memorandum 144
New rules around bullying
Whether it happens in person or online, students
who engage in bullying, including cyberbullying,
can get suspended from school. These rules apply
to both elementary and secondary students.
WE CAN ALL HELP STOP IT
How can I tell if my young child or teenager is being bullied?
A young child may not know the word “bully”, but she knows when someone is being mean, hurting her, or making her feel sad or scared. There are signs that your child is being bullied, even if she doesn’t talk about it. She may not tell you because she may be worried she’ll make things worse if she “tells”or “rats”. Your teenager won’t necessarily tell you there’s a problem either.Teenagers often prefer to handle things on their own – they might think you’ll get upset or they might just find it embarrassing to have a parent involved. Instead of waiting to be told, you can watch for signs that your child is being bullied – signs such as changes in behaviour, in attitude, or in appearance. Children who are being bullied may not want to go to school or may cry or feel sick on school days.They may not want to take part in activities or social events with other students.They might suddenly begin to lose money or personal items, or come home with torn clothes or broken possessions, and offer explanations that don’t make sense.
Teens who are bullied may also start talking about dropping out of school and begin skipping activities that include other students.
Is it bullying if force hasn’t been used?
Bullying can take many forms. It can be:
• physical – hitting, shoving, stealing, or damaging property
• verbal – name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic
• social – excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumours
• electronic (commonly known as cyberbullying) – spreading rumours and
hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, cellphones, and text messaging
• Your child’s teacher or another teacher she trusts may be able to solve
the problem or may have suggestions about the kind of help your child
needs.Training in bullying prevention has been provided to teachers
• If you would like to learn more about the services available through the
school, you can also talk to the principal.
• As part of the school’s bullying-prevention program, teachers should
discuss bullying openly in class and help students understand the
importance of respect, caring about the feelings of others, and friendship.
• Ask to see your school’s code of conduct, which sets out how students,
teachers, and other members of the school community should behave
towards one another.
• Ask to see your school’s bullying-prevention policy. The policy outlines
what the school staff can do to solve the problem.
• School staff are expected to make every effort to fully investigate your
concerns, while protecting students’ privacy.
• If, after a reasonable amount of time, you are not satisfied with the school’s response, you may contact the supervisory officer of your school board.
A guide for parents 5
One-third of students experience bullying at school, and almost one-third
report having bullied someone else.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2005
Well, at least my child isn’t involved in bullying …
Everyone suffers when bullying occurs, and everyone can help to prevent it. In 85 per cent of cases, bullying takes place in front of witnesses. Bystanders usually getting involved because they’re afraid they could become a target themselves or make things worse for the person being bullied. You can help your child understand that bullying is not acceptable and that he can help stop it by reporting it to an adult.
How serious a problem is bullying?
Bullying is never acceptable. It should not be considered just “part of growing up”. Research and experience consistently show that bullying is a serious issue, with far-reaching consequences for the students involved, their families and peers, and the community around them.
Students who are bullied often deal with social anxiety, loneliness, withdrawal, physical illnesses, and low self-esteem.They can also develop phobias, take on aggressive behaviour, or slide into depression. Some students miss school, see their marks drop, or even leave school altogether.
The path is also rocky for those who bully. Children and teens who learn to see aggression as power may stop caring about the difference between right and wrong in general. Eventually, they may become abusive adults.
Do boys and girls bully in the same way?
Both boys and girls can be bullies. Boys tend to bully physically, while girls
generally use more indirect approaches, such as gossiping about classmates or isolating them by excluding them from activities or groups. Boys are usually bullied by other boys, whereas girls are bullied by both girls and boys. Regardless of its form, bullying is unacceptableYou can’t come”
A positive school climate and a safe learning and teaching
environment are essential if students are to succeed in school.
Learn more about:
• Safe Schools Strategy. This comprehensive strategy includes a
bullying prevention program in every school, school resources,
training for teachers and principals, and a partnership with
Kids Help Phone.
• Ontario’s new approach to discipline. “Progressive discipline”
involves the whole school and promotes a positive school climate.
It enables the principal to choose the appropriate consequences
to address inappropriate student behaviour and offers students
multiple supports to promote positive behaviour.
• Code of conduct. Our guide to Ontario’s code of conduct
outlines the roles and responsibilities for everyone in the
school community, including students, parents, school staff
and community partners.
• Policy/program memorandum 144. This memorandum defines
bullying and outlines expectations for school boards on bullying
prevention and intervention.
• Kids Help Phone. This confidential counselling service is available
24/7.Visit www.kidshelpphone.ca or call 1-800-668-6868.
• How to get more copies of this brochure. It is available in
22 languages. Find it online at the website listed below,
or order printed copies from ServiceOntario Publications
at www.serviceontario.ca/publications or toll free at
1-800-668-9938, asking for the bullying brochure.
Find out more at:
Additional tips for parents and students are available from CAMH (Centre For Addiction and Mental Health) www.camh.net such as the following:
- When a parent has bipolar disorder...What kids want to know
- When a parent dies by suicide...What kids want to know
- When a parent has experienced psychosis...What kids want to know
- when a parent is depressed...What kids want to know
- Moving beyond STIGMA
- STIGMA understanding the impact of prejudice and discrimination
- When a parent drinks too much alcohol...What kids need to know
Another source is OSSTF (Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation) and a resource list this union has put together entitled "Still Not Laughing, Challenging Sexual Harassment in Our Schools" www.osstf.on.ca
From the toronto Star September 6, 2012:
How parents can take on bullying
Stu AutySTEPHANIE LAKE/FOR THE TORONTO STAR “If we help children understand who they are — if they are good at music or kind or athletic — that provides the underpinning of self-confidence," says Stu Auty, president of the Canadian Safe School Network.
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Approximately one in five schoolchildren is bullied.
That’s the finding of a Public Health Agency study, The Health of Canada’s Young People: A Mental Health Focus, conducted in 2009 and 2010. Among the more than 26,000 kids it surveyed in 436 schools across the country, 22 per cent reported being victims of bullying.
But the good news is that parents can help protect their children against bullying at school. First, parents and kids need to understand the different forms bullying can take — ongoing verbal, physical and sexual aggression have been the most common ones. But the increase in recent years of cyber bullying — harassment through email, chat rooms or social media — creates a whole new set of problems.
“With electronic bullying, it never goes away — the comments live on the Internet forever,” says Wendy Craig, a contributor to the study and scientific co-director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), a group of Canadian researchers, NGOs and governments focused on stopping bullying. “It’s like they re-experience the episode every time they see the link or as more and more people tell them they’ve seen it.”
Craig says one of the most important ways parents or caregivers can protect their kids against bullying is by helping them develop strong social skills.
“A child is more likely to be victimized if they are alone. Friends act as protectors. So, you want to actively support your child to build a peer group with prosocial values,” Craig says.
Another important way to prevent kids from being targeted by bullies is helping them build their self-esteem, says Stu Auty, president of the Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN).
“If we help children understand who they are — if they are good at music or kind or athletic — that provides the underpinning of self-confidence. So, if a bully says they’re too short or they don’t have friends, they won’t believe it because they know what they’re about,” says Auty, whose organization develops safe-school resources, administers research and hosts conferences and professional development events for educators. The CSSN also responds to hundreds of calls for help from parents of bullied children.
Parents also need to cultivate strong and positive relationships with their kids. “Kids need adults with whom they feel comfortable and have a trusting relationship so they can confide in them,” Auty says.
Parents who suspect their child is being bullied should look out for telltale signs such as resistance to attending school, declining grades, decreased social interaction and a shift in mood to greater anxiety, anger or hostility, Craig says.
Getting kids to open up about their experiences of being bullied can be tricky because it’s emotionally painful, and because they may be scared of retribution if the bully finds out he or she has been exposed, she says.
“One of best times to talk about this issue is in the car, when they don’t have to make eye contact with you,” Craig suggests. They may disclose more information because they feel less self-conscious.”
Once parents learn the nature of the problem, they can coach their child to respond accordingly. Depending on your child’s personality, this may include asking the aggressor to stop or walking way, but it should also involve telling a teacher about what’s happening, Craig says.
Parents should also liaise directly with their child’s teacher to find out more about the bullying incident, how the teacher handled it, and what will be done to prevent it from happening again. “You also want to ask how you can support the teacher in these efforts, and to keep touching base to ensure everything is going well. That vigilance and teamwork will make a difference,” she says.
If your child’s teacher isn’t helping to stop the bullying, don’t give up, Auty says.
“Go up the food chain, to the vice-principal, principal, your school trustee and the school board chair, if needed,” he says. “You’ll find over time the situation will be looked after.”