Most children are bullied at least once—and for some, it can be a daily torment. Bullying may be common, but it should not be considered a normal part of growing up. It is the use of social or physical power to intimidate, upset, and even injure another person. In other words, it's abuse. Bullying can include leaving a child out of a social group or activity, harassing or picking on them, calling them names or gossiping about them, physically hitting, tripping or pushing them around, or saying nasty things to or about them online or in text messages.
Children and youth who are bullied feel lonely, unhappy, and frightened. If the bullying goes on for a long time, they may suffer such a loss of confidence and self-esteem that every part of their life is affected. They may avoid school and other activities where they may be bullied, so they fall behind and become socially isolated. Some kids develop serious mental health issues like depression because of bullying. Some may even be driven to commit suicide.
Signs and symptoms
It’s not always easy to tell that a person is being bullied and many children and teens do not want to tell anyone. They may feel embarrassed. They may be afraid of backlash from the bully or ridicule from their peers. There are, however, a number of warning signs, such as:
- not wanting to go to school and avoiding social events
- headaches, stomach aches, loss of appetite and/or trouble sleeping
- less confidence in their abilities and lower self-esteem
- irritability or being more quiet and withdrawn than usual
- possessions go missing or get broken, or clothing is dirty or torn after school
- unexplained cuts and bruises
- being upset after spending time online
If you think someone you know is being bullied, ask them about it. Urge them to talk to a teacher, guidance counsellor, or principal—and offer to go with them to make it a bit easier for them. Never stand by and watch someone being bullied. Stand up to the bully, and make sure to report the incident to the adults in charge. Never keep bullying a secret—this is what gives bullies their power!
If you’re worried that your child is being bullied, let them know what you’ve noticed and ask them if they’re being bullied. Let them know that you will help them as much as you can, but that you must also talk to the other adults who can help—such as the school administration, teachers, and coaches.
Schools and community organizations are responsible for creating safe, welcoming and violence-free environments. It can take the efforts of many adults working together to make the bullying stop—but it can be done. Everyone has the right to be free from bullying.
Everyone has the right to be free from bullying. Bullying happens when power and aggression are used to control or cause upset to another person. Bullies use physical, verbal and nonverbal ways of causing that upset. They might intentionally leave people out, gossip, harass or pick on someone, discriminate against others, and cyber-bully.
People who bully often do it because of lessons they’ve learned as children about power and aggression. Often, bullies really don’t like themselves deep down. They get mixed up in thinking that making others feel bad might make them feel better or stronger.
Bullying can make children and youth feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. Warning signs of bullying might be when children and youth don’t seem to like themselves very much. Other signs include missing school, and missing or damaged personal belongings. Sometimes there are physical symptoms like feeling ill, being unusually irritable, quiet or withdrawn. Bullying puts people at risk of having a variety of emotional, behavioural and relationship problems.
Sometimes people who are bullied can feel trapped and need help to stop the bullying. They might make attempts on their own to stop it, but those attempts can sometimes make the bullying worse.
Asking For Help
If you are being bullied, it can feel scary to ask for help. It is the most important thing to do. Adults can help, but sometimes you might have to tell more than one adult before the bullying will stop. Not everyone knows how to help someone who’s being bullied, but there are lots of adults who can help, so don’t give up!
Remember, when no one talks about bullying, bullies feel they can keep bullying without consequence. Secrecy makes bullies stronger!
Schools and community organizations are responsible for creating safe, welcoming and violence-free environments. They can play a key role in helping make solutions happen. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop bullying, but there is help available. With the right people working together to find a solution, bullying can stop. Please visit www.bullyingcanada.ca and www.prevnet.ca for two excellent and well-supported anti-bullying websites.