How deal with school bullying in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on September 9, 2021
girl holding stop the bullying sign

Bullying is a problem where people hurt, intimidate, or scare others intentionally. Bullies often target those who struggle with defending themselves and are unlikely to retaliate. When people are bullied, they often feel afraid, uncomfortable, and alone. Bullying can be both physically and emotionally destructive. Some common bullying behaviours include shoving, punching, kicking, poking, pulling hair, spreading negative gossip or rumours, ignoring, saying hurtful things (even in a joking manner), and convincing others to treat someone badly.

Whether students are newcomers or not, they may struggle with or witness bullying in Canada. Statistics show that 47 percent of Canadian parents have at least one child that has been bullied, and one-third of adults in Canada were bullied as a child. So, what can be done to prevent and stop bullying in schools?

For newcomer parents

Even though you may be dealing with the challenges that come with adjusting to Canada, it’s important to pay attention to how your children are adapting to their new school. Some newcomer parents may think that changes in their children’s personalities are due to cultural adjustments, but if your children suddenly don’t want to go to school or become withdrawn, they might be experiencing bullying. While every child may need something different, here are some things you can do if you suspect your children are being bullied:

  • Let your children know that they can trust you. Ask your children if they have any concerns and, if they want, you can talk to school staff to stop any bullying behaviour.
  • Talk to your children’s teachers and school social workers about the bullying.
  • Make sure your children know how to speak up for themselves and for other students by using phrases like, “Stop it,” and “Don’t do/say things like that,” and to walk away if a bully refuses to listen. Also, teach them the importance of not being a bystander and getting help from an adult if things escalate.
  • Discipline your children when they exhibit any bullying behaviour to their siblings or pets, and let your children know that bullying is wrong and can have damaging effects on others.

For witnesses

Whether you are a bus driver, school librarian, parent, or student, you have a responsibility to call out and report bullying if you see it. In 57 percent of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when witnesses intervene or are unsupportive of the bullying behaviour. As a passive bystander, your lack of action encourages bullying. Here are some other things you can do:

  • Inform a teacher or counsellor if you notice bullying.
  • Move towards or next to the bullied person so that the bullies will stop their behaviour.
  • Speak up for the student being bullied so that the person doesn’t feel alone.
  • Help the student get away from the bullying situation.

For those who are being bullied

If you are a newcomer student who is being bullied, remember that you are not alone. There are many people who care about you and don’t want you to suffer by yourself. It’s okay to seek help from your parents, teachers, and friends. You shouldn’t have to deal with other students treating you poorly or hurting your feelings.

sad young boy

SOS Safety Magazine mentions that bullies often pick on those who are sensitive, shy or quiet, different from them, smaller than them, and someone they are jealous of. As a newcomer, bullies might view you as an easy target because you are adjusting to a new environment. No matter who you are or what you look like, no one deserves to be bullied. If you are being bullied, here are some things you can do:

  • Tell someone you trust (like a parent or teacher) that you are being bullied.
  • Stand up for yourself if you are able to or ask for help from others (let one of your teachers know about the bullying or ask friends to confront the bully with you since there is strength in numbers).
  • Stay with a supportive group of friends to avoid confrontations.
  • Remind yourself that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Bullying can be traumatic, and no student should be afraid of going to school. The stress and anxiety that comes from being bullied can also make it difficult for newcomer students to enjoy learning and it may decrease their focus. Parents, teachers, school staff, and students need to work together so that no student feels unsafe at school.

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