How to talk to your kids about bullying
Students walk past South Secondary School, where 8 students were charged in a bullying case in London, Ont., on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. (Dave Chidley / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:06PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:30AM EST
Has your child come home and talked to you about Anti-Bullying Day activities earlier this month? If yes, then this would provide a great opportunity for parents to ask their children about what their exposure has been to bullying, what they think about it as well as how they feel about it and their reactions to it.
Here are tips on what to discuss:
- Listen to everything your child tells you about bullying, from their experiences, their reactions, how they are coping to their thoughts and emotions and needs.
- Reassure your child that you understand and can help. This is an issue where everyone is involved, either directly or indirectly. It will help your child not to feel helpless or powerless and gain a sense of safety and security and self worth.
- Communicate the message that getting help from families, peers and/or health care professionals means that you are taking action against bullying. So your child needs to be proud of it!
- Be a role model to your children. Your actions can influence how children might relate to each other. Share your values with your children.
Bullying occurs when an individual repeatedly and over time engages in negative action against others. It involves more than a single act and is generally associated with a power imbalance whereby the victim is unable to defend self and feels inferior. Bullying can include verbal or physical attacks, hurting, excluding or isolating a person, humiliating or degrading a person or a group of people.
Bullying is associated with various psychological symptoms including increased stress and anxiety and depression, psychosomatic symptoms, decreased well-being, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, feelings of helplessness, mood irritability, and musculoskeletal health complaints.
CAMH’s OSDUHS (Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey) Mental Health and Well-Being Report, an ongoing survey of Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 provides the following statistics on bullying among Ontario students:
- Bullying behaviours remain a concern; 29% of students report being victim of bullying in school
- Cyber-bullying was reported by one in five students in Ontario.
- A decrease in bullying victimization and bullying perpetration and fighting in school were reported by male students.
- However girls report being twice as likely as boys to be the victim of cyber-bullying: 28% versus 15%.
- As well, more girls than boys report being victimized at school: 31% versus 26%.
• When compared to the provincial average, students in Toronto are less likely to report being cyber-bullied or bullied in school. They are also less likely to report an injury requiring medical care. Students in Western Ontario are more likely to report being cyber-bullied.
You can gather further information on CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey on the important trends in mental and physical health and risk behaviours among Ontario students by visiting the CAMH newsroom.
Among the bullying prevention programs: the CAMH Centre for Prevention Science (CAMH-CPS) houses the “Fourth R” project for schools.
The Fourth R project is a comprehensive violence prevention and healthy relationship program, currently implemented in over 1,200 schools across North America.
The Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships, comprised of researchers and professionals working on promoting healthy adolescent relationships and reducing risk behaviours, work with schools to promote the “neglected R (for relationships)” and help build this “Fourth R” in schools.
The Fourth R program has been developed to help adolescents form healthy relationships and it addresses adolescent risk behaviours (violence/bullying, unsafe sexual behaviours and substance use) by focusing on relationship goals and challenges impacting their decision-making.
You can gather more information about the Fourth R program and related projects at: youthrelationships.org