October is National bullying prevention month!
“October was first declared as National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. Since then, October has been a time to acknowledge that bullying has devastating effects on children and families such as school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression. Bullying can occur in multiple ways. It can be verbal, physical, through social exclusion, or via digital sources like email, texts, or social media. Unlike mutual teasing or fighting, bullying occurs when one person or a group of people is perceived as being more powerful than another and takes advantage of that power through repeated physical assaults, threats of harm, intimidation, or by purposefully excluding a person from a valued social group. Being bullied can severely affect the person’s self-image, social interactions, and school performance and can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance use, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors”. Source NCTSN
The following information has been taken from the BC Government Webpage on Bullying:
- 1 in 3 Canadian teens say they’ve been bullied recently
- Almost half of Canadian parents say their kid has been bullied
Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) are discriminated against three times more than heterosexual students
What is Bullying?
A persistent pattern of unwelcome or aggressive behaviour that hurts others physically and/or emotionally
For a situation to be considered a bullying incident, three indicators are usually present:
- Power – children who bully acquire their power through physical size and strength, by status within the peer group, and by recruiting support of the group
- Frequency – bullying is not a random act. It is this factor that brings about the anticipatory terror in the mind of the child being bullied that can be so detrimental and have the most debilitating long-term effects
- Intent to harm – children who bully generally do so with the intent to either physically or emotionally harm the other child
A person who shows bullying behaviour says or does something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse – even when it’s obvious that they’ve hurt a person or when they’re asked to stop.
What are the signs that your child is being bullied?
Kids who are being bullied by others will often display a change in behaviour or emotions, like:
- Not wanting to go to school or participate in extra-curricular activities
- Anxious, fearful or over-reactive
- Having low self-esteem and making negative comments about themselves or a former friend
- Regular complaints of stomachaches, headaches, and other physical symptoms without any particular cause
- Less interest in school (i.e. drop in grades, development of learning issues)
- Injuries, bruising, damaged clothing or broken items
- Unhappy and irritable
- Trouble sleeping, nightmares, bedwetting
- Frequent crying
- Threatens to hurt themself or others
- Significant changes in social life (i.e. no one is calling or inviting them out)
What are the signs your child is engaging in bullying behaviour?
Kids who exhibit bullying behaviour may show signs that they are using power aggressively, such as:
- Little concern for the feelings of others
- Aggressive with siblings, parents, teachers, friends and animals
- Bossy and manipulative to get their own way
- Coming home with unexplained objects or extra money
- Secretive about possessions, activities or where they’ve been
- Easily frustrated and quickly angered
- Believe aggression is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts
- Abuse others physically or verbally
- Get into fights and blame others for starting them
- Have a need to dominate others
- Have two or three friends who are also aggressive
- Hang out with increasingly younger children
- Quick to interpret accidents or neutral events as deliberate hostile acts
What should you do if your child is being bullied?
Parents Magazine has some great tips:
Take action to stop bullying
Ultimately, it’s up to parents to help young children deal with a bully. Help them learn how to make smart choices and take action when they feel hurt or see another child being bullied, and be ready to intervene if necessary. Here are a few actions you can take.
Report repeated, severe bullying
If your child is reluctant to report the bullying, go with them to talk to a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, or school administrator. Learn about the school’s policy on bullying, document instances of bullying and keep records, and stay on top of the situation by following up with the school to see what actions are being taken. When necessary, get help from others outside of school, like a family therapist or a police officer, and take advantage of community resources that can deal with and stop bullying.
Encourage your child to be an upstander
Being an upstander (and not a passive bystander) means a child takes positive action when they see a friend or another student being bullied. Ask your child how it feels to have someone stand up for them, and share how one person can make a difference.
“When it’s the kids who speak up, it’s 10 times more powerful than anything that we’ll ever be able to do as an adult,” says Walter Roberts, a professor of counselor education at Minnesota State University, Mankato and author of Working With Parents of Bullies and Victims.
Partner with your child’s school
Communicate with your child’s school and report bullying incidences. “You can’t expect the school staff to know everything that’s going on. Make them aware of any situations,” Kaplan says. Though more schools are implementing bullying prevention programs, many still do not have enough support or resources.
“Parents and teachers need to be aware and get involved so that they can monitor it appropriately,” Dr. Pastyrnak says. Learn how to start anti-bullying and anti-violence programs within the school curriculum.
Contact the offender’s parents
Getting parents involved is the right approach only for persistent acts of intimidation and when you feel the parents will be receptive to working in a cooperative manner with you. Call or e-mail them in a non-confrontational way, making it clear that your goal is to resolve the matter together. You might say something like:
“I’m phoning because my daughter has come home from school feeling upset every day this week. She tells me that Suzy has called her names and excluded her from games at the playground. I don’t know whether Suzy has mentioned any of this, but I’d like us to help them get along better. Do you have any suggestions?”
Teach coping skills
If your child is being bullied, remind them that it’s not their fault, they are not alone, and you are there to help. It’s important for kids to be able to identify their feelings and know that you want to hear about them so they can communicate what’s going on. So practice and be a role model. Talk about your feelings and help them identify their feelings in everyday situations.
What parents shouldn’t do—no matter the child’s age—is assume that this is normal peer stuff that will work itself out. “It should never be accepted that a child is being picked on or teased,” Kaplan advises. Helping your child deal with a bully will build confidence and prevent a difficult situation from escalating.
Ways to help convey the message to kids:
There are several campaigns and launch in October in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, Stomp Out Bullying Campaign #wearblue and the Cartoon Network has a “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” Campaign going. They have created a great video that you can watch as a family. In addition their website is full of activities and information to start a conversation. There is also a
Canadian school Counsellors website lists a variety of activities you can do each week to help combat bullying and engage in more inclusive behaviour.
Other useful sources of information and resources include:
PACER: National Bullying Prevention Centre
If you or someone you know needs help because they are being bullied. Bullying Canada offers support on the phone, or text message.
Call Bullying Canada Now
They have a team of more than 350 highly trained volunteers are here just to help people like you. Simply pick up your phone and dial: (877) 352-4497 and follow the prompts to access the Support Team!
Text us anytime! Simply send a SMS message to: (877) 352-4497 or you may email our Support Team 24/7/365 at Support@BullyingCanada.ca