What is Bullying?
Bullying is a serious problem for those who are bullied, for those who bully, for those who are bystanders and for everyone in the communities in which they live. Bullying behaviour negatively affects all children and is a significant obstacle to their healthy social, emotional, physical and educational growth and development.
Bullying among young people is understood as repeated negative actions committed by one or more youth against another.
The actions may be of a physical, verbal, emotional or sexual nature or may span a multitude of behaviours. These include teasing, name calling, taunting, threatening, exclusion, ostracism, extortion, harassment, manipulating friendships and physical violence. Implicit is the imbalance in real or perceived power between bully and victim.
Whether bullying is direct or indirect, the key component of bullying is that the physical or psychological intimidation occurs repeatedly over time to create an ongoing pattern of harassment and abuse.
Bullying is learned and reinforced throughout society - in the community, in the social group, at home, in school - wherever youth are active. According to the research of Dr. Debra Peplar and Dr. Wendy Craig from the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, "Children who bully others have learned that aggressive behaviour is an efficient means of gaining status, power and control."
Cyber bullying can generally be defined as sending or posting harmful or malicious messages or images through e-mail, instant messages, text messages and websites. It is emerging as one of the more challenging issues facing educators, since it has a direct impact on students but often occurs off school property.
Examples of cyber bullying include:
- sending cruel, vicious or threatening messages
- creating websites that contain stories, cartoons, pictures and jokes ridiculing others
- posting pictures of classmates with intent to embarrass them
- using someone else's e-mail account and sending vicious or embarrassing material to others
- engaging in instant messaging or texting to trick another person into revealing sensitive or personal information and forwarding that information to others
- taking a picture of a person and sending that picture electronically to others without consent
Many children and teens use social media. If students have not developed critical thinking skills, are unsupervised or create websites that are not monitored, they can be at risk of unknowingly communicating with predators, spammers or pornographers.
If you are the victim of a cyber bully
- don't reply to messages from cyber bullies.
- tell an adult you know and trust. Just as with any other kind of bullying, ignoring it often leads to escalation.
- if physical threats are made or the bullying escalates, inform police.
- do not erase or delete messages from cyber bullies. You don't have to read them, but keep them as evidence. You may get similar messages from other accounts. The police, your ISP and/or your telephone company can use these messages to help you.
- if necessary, get a new phone number, account or e-mail address.
Suggestions for Parents
Make sure your children understand how permanent things on the internet and social media can be. Remind them that anything they post or send is virtually available to be seen or read by anyone in the world.
Talk to your children about cyber bullying. Make sure they understand what it is. Let then know that cyber bullying is no less serious and unacceptable than other forms of bullying.
Set up the family computer in an open, common area so that you can monitor what your child is sending and receiving. Purchase software that can help track activity.
With contributions from:
Kidproof Child Safety
National Association of Elementary School Principals
Ontario Provincial Police
Information and Computing Technology - Acceptable Use Guidelines for Students: Provides guidelines and defines responsibilities for the safe and acceptable use of the computing and information technology facilities and resources in the SCDSB.
Bullying: We Can All Help Stop It - A Guide for Parents of Elementary and Secondary Students
Safe and Healthy Schools
Canadian Red Cross - Violence, Bullying and Abuse Prevention
Information for parents, teachers, and students on bullying prevention, abuse prevention, and healthy relationships.