Within the past few years, bullying has been in the spotlight in Canada, especially after the Amanda Todd suicide. Amanda Todd, a teen from Vancouver, was bullied online and offline. Eventually, Amanda Todd committed suicide as a result of the anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse she suffered from after being bullied. While the Amanda Todd story is one of the most well-known cases of bullying in Canada, it’s hardly the only one. In fact, statistics from StopaBully.ca show that 64% of kids and teens have been bullied while at school. With so many Canadian children and teens dealing with bullying on such a regular basis, it is important for parents to know the facts on bullying. Here’s a closer look at the bullying facts, common bullying myths, the laws in Canada, and tips for stopping this serious problem.
What is Bullying? – The Facts on Bullying
Bullying is a type of aggression that takes place within a relationship, and the bully generally uses control and aggression to have power over a victim. Over time, the inequality and power dynamics in this type of a relationship get even stronger, and victims may be caught in these abusive relationships. In many cases, bullying facts show that bullying takes place at school, and it often occurs on school busses, during recess, in bathrooms, or during after school activities. According to Prevnet.ca, peers are present during 90% of bullying incidents that take place.
The four most common types of bullying that occur in Canada include:
Physical Bullying – Physical bullying includes:
- Stealing someone’s belongings
- Destroying belongings
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Verbal Bullying – Verbal bullying may include:
Social Bullying – Examples of social bullying include:
- Humiliating another individual with graffiti or gestures intended to put that person down
- Excluding someone from a group
Cyber Bullying – Common examples of cyber bullying may include:
- Spreading rumors online
- Sending threatening text messages
- Intimidating someone via email
- Making fun of someone on social networks
- Posing as someone else
- Stealing and making public someone’s identity or personal information
Bullying Facts and Statistics in Canada
A look at the bullying facts and statistics in Canada show that bullying continues to be a growing problem. Here’s a look at some of the current bullying statistics:
- Statistics from StopaBully.ca show that 64% of school age children believe that bullying is a part of normal school life.
- Every 7 minutes, bullying takes place on the playground of a Canadian school.
- In the 13-year-olds category, Canada currently has the ninth highest rate of bullying.
- According to Prevnet.ca, 50% of Canada’s high school students report that bullying is a big problem at school.
- At least 85% of the time, other kids are watching when a kid is bullying another kid.
- Approximately 12% of kids are bullied at least once a week.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research report that at least one out of three Canadian adolescents report being bullied recently.
- According to MediaSmarts.ca, a University of Toronto cyberbullying survey found that one out of five students in Canada report that they have been cyberbullied within the past three months.
Common Myths About Bullying
It’s very concerning that Canada’s bullying rates are higher than 2/3 of other OECD countries, and Canadians need to do more to understand and stop bullying. To stop the problem with bullying, it’s important to be aware of some of the common myths about bullying. Here is a look at some common bullying myths, as well as the real bullying facts you need to know.
- Myth #1 – Children Need to Hit Back – Many parents teach kids that they should hit back if someone hits them, but bullying facts show that this could result in serious harm. In many cases, bullies are more powerful and larger than their victims are, so hitting back could escalate the problem. It is never okay to teach kids to use violence to solve problems.
- Myth #2 – Kids Need to Learn to Stand Up for Themselves – When children have enough courage to report bullying, it means that they have tried to deal with it on their own. Children need help when they make a bullying complaint.
- Myth #3 – Bullying Builds Character – Kids who are repeatedly bullied lose trust in others and deal with low self-esteem. Instead of building character, bullying actually can damage an individual’s self-concept.
- Myth #4 – There Will Always Be Bullies – When students, parents, teachers, and communities work together, it’s possible to change the future, eliminating the problem with bullying.
- Myth #5 – Kids Will Always Behave this Way – The truth is that bullying is actually a learned behavior. Bullies may be imitating behavior they have seen at home, on TV, or in the movies. According to BullyingCanada.ca, 93% of video games that kids play reward violent behavior, which teaches kids a bad lesson. Changing attitudes towards violence will help reduce the bullying problem.
- Myth #6 – Words Can’t Hurt You – Even name-calling or spreading rumors, while they do not hurt someone physically, can leave lasting scars on a child.
Bully Facts – The Dangers of Bullying for Bullies and Their Victims
Bullying often results in serious problems, for both bullies and their victims. It is not uncommon for victims and bullies to deal with social withdrawal and depression. In some cases, bullying has even led to suicide. For a Nova Scotia 17-year-old girl, Rehtaeh Parsons, an alleged gang rape and subsequent bullying led this young girl to try to hang herself. While bullying doesn’t always lead to suicide, it can result in serious dangers for victims and bullies.
Dangerous for Kids and Teens Who are Victims of Bullying
- Low self-esteem
- Change in behavior, such as aggression
- Social isolation, loneliness, or anxiety
- Academic problems
- Increased absenteeism from school
- Health problems that are stress related, such as unexplained stomachaches or headaches
- Talking about, attempting, or committing suicide
Dangers for Kids and Teens Who are Bullies
- Substance abuse
- Inability to differentiate between right and wrong
- Problems in relationships
- Academic problems
- Dating aggression
- Engaging in sexual harassment
- Higher school dropout rate
- Being bullied by others
- Criminal adulthood
- Gang involvement
Bullying Facts for Kids
It’s important that kids learn the facts about bullying, why it’s wrong, and what they can do to prevent it. After all, if kids intervene, Canadian studies show that most incidents of bullying will stop in just 10 seconds. Parents should take time to teach kids the following information about bullying so they know what to do when they encounter bullying.
What to Do If You’re Being Bullied – You don’t have to put up with bullying. Use these tips if you are being bullied:
- Stay calm and avoid getting mad or fighting back. Bullies want to get a reaction, so don’t give them one.
- Try not to act scared if you are bullied.
- Try to withdraw from the situation calmly.
- When someone bullies you, write down what happened, including who was bullying you, where it happened, and who saw the incident. You can keep track of bullying by using the KidsHelpPhone.ca bullying incident report. When you’re ready, you can call 1-800-668-6868 (Kids Help Phone) to report bullying.
- Tell an adult what happened. It’s not tattling to tell someone what’s happening to you. If you’re too afraid to talk to your parents, try telling another grownup that you trust, such as a teacher or a grandparent.
How to Prevent Bullying – In many cases, making a few changes can help you prevent bullying. Great ways to prevent bullying include:
- Hang out with a group of friends, since many bullies target kids when they’re alone.
- Find a friend or family member to walk to school or the bus stop with you.
- When you’re at school, try to stay in sight of an adult.
- Avoid bringing a lot of money or expensive items to school. Bullies often like to bully kids who have expensive items they want.
- Try to act confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up high, and avoid looking at the ground. Bullies usually don’t pick on people who show confidence.
- If you know someone doesn’t like you or someone who has bullied you in the past, avoid that person.
- Avoid areas where you know bullies may be, such as empty classrooms, restrooms, or hallways.
You Can Help Stop Bullying – Most of the time, bullying will stop if a bystander steps in when bullying occurs. If you see someone being bullied, you can take measures to stop bullying, including:
- Never join in when someone is bullying another kid. Bullies want to get other people to join in.
- Offer to help the kid being bullied. Let them know they should tell an adult and go with them if they are afraid.
- Go get an adult and tell them that you saw a kid being bullied by someone else.
- Don’t try fighting the bully to stop the problem.
- Walk away and get others to walk away. Bullies like an audience, so walk away and find help.
What Can You Do About Bullying in Canada?
Studies show that 78% of Canadians do not think that enough is being done to stop and prevent bullying in their community. This means that everyone needs to start taking action to reduce the prevalence of bullying in Canada. The following are some helpful tips parents can follow to prevent or stop bullying.
- Tip #1 – Teach Your Child About Empathy – Teaching your own children empathy is one of the best ways to prevent bullying. Have kids think about how it would feel to be bullied. Empathetic children are less likely to bully others. You should also encourage your children to support other kids who are being bullied.
- Tip #2 – Help Your Child Make Amends – If your child does bully someone else, help your child realize that bullying is hurtful and wrong. Then, help your child make amends. You can encourage your child to make a verbal apology or write a letter of apology.
- Tip #3 – Work to Keep Communication Open – Make sure that you work to keep communication open between you and your children. Talk about bullying and encourage your children to come to you if they are being bullied offline or online.
- Tip #4 – Talk to School Administrators – Talk to your child’s school to find out what kind of bullying policies are in place. If the school doesn’t have a bullying policy, ask the school to develop one. If your child is dealing with bullying at school, make sure you talk to the school administrators about the problem.
- Tip #5 – Go to the Police Detachment – If your child is dealing with bullying that includes criminal offenses, such as assault, threats, sexual exploitation, or harassment, make sure you take bullying information to your local police detachment.