Bullying

Last revised: December 11, 2023

Bullying affects children’s mental health, relationships, sense of safety, and their ability to learn and to join in school activities. It impacts everyone including the bullied, the bully and any who witnesses the bullying.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a one time or repeated pattern of negative or aggressive behaviours from one person or group towards another. There are many types of bullying, such as:

Parents, caregivers and children are encouraged to reach out for help, please check out the mental health, addictions and substance use health services website.

Being a supportive adult

Every adult has a role to play in making our homes and communities supportive and welcoming places for all children to learn and grow. Adults can help to prevent and stop bullying by supporting and teaching children about healthy relationships, such as:

  • How to listen to others.
  • Having empathy for one another.
  • Being a kind friend.
  • Being respectful and including others.
  • Learning to cope and solve problems with their peers.

Caring adults are people who children trust to listen and help them to find ways to stop bullying.

What to look for

Children who are bullied often feel afraid, ashamed, and alone. They may find it hard to talk and to ask for help. So, it is important to look for signs of bullying, such as:

  • Being sad, fearful or stressed.
  • Spending less time with their friends.
  • Struggling with school.
  • Having trouble sleeping or being tired.
  • Losing interest in things they enjoyed.
  • Injuries, like cuts and bruises.
  • Damaged or lost belongings.

Children who bully others may be struggling with challenging feelings too, such as anger and sadness. They may be facing challenges in their lives or have been bullied themselves. Children who bully may have mental health challenges, difficulty developing healthy relationships, and struggle in school. Some signs of a child may be bullying other children:

  • Easily angry and frustrated.
  • Bullying siblings at home.
  • Keeping secrets.
  • Injuries, like cuts and bruises
How to support children who are bullied

Children need parents, caregivers, educators and community leaders they trust to talk to and support them through this challenging time. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen and accept their feelings.
    • Let them know you care, and they are not to blame.
    • Let them know things can change and help them find help.
    • Teach children how:
      • To stay safe, such as turning off social media or staying with children and adults they trust.
      • To speak out and report bullying to a trusted adult, such as a teacher.
      • To stay calm and walk away from the bullying.
      • To ask for help and support from family and friends.

Parents, caregivers and children are encouraged to reach out for help, please check out the mental health, addictions and substance use health services website.

How to support children who bully

Children who bully other children may be facing challenges in their lives, such as being bullied themselves. It is important to listen and talk with them about their feelings and thoughts, and to focus on the behaviour and not the child. Adults can help them to learn how to develop healthy relationships, such as having empathy for their peers and finding positive ways to solve challenges in relationships.

Parents, caregivers and children are encouraged to reach out for help, please check out the mental health, addictions and substance use health services website.

How to support children who witness bullying

Children who witness bullying are affected by what they see and hear, in person or online. They may feel helpless, afraid or worried. Teach children how to:

  • Stay safe.
  • Report bullying to an adult, such as a teacher.
  • Take care of their mental health and to find support from family and friends.

Parents, caregivers and children are encouraged to reach out for help, please check out the mental health, addictions and substance use health services website

Working together

Ontario schools have programs to help children develop healthy relationships with their peers. They also have plans to help report bullying and what actions to take. To learn about the role of schools, check out Bullying: we can all help to stop it.

  • Talk to someone at the school, such as a teacher your child trusts, or the principal or vice-principal.
  • Write down the facts of the bullying, including text and email messages.
  • Share your concerns and ask for a meeting.
  • Learn about your school’s bullying policies and resources.
  • Work with the school and your child to create a safety plan. A safety plan will help:
    • Identify who will check-in with your child and when.
    • Identify safe places.
    • Identify safe people and support networks.
    • Explore other supports and resources.
    • Monitor the media your child consumes (TV, video games, online).
  • If the bullying does not stop, follow-up with the school to check all the agreed steps of the safety plan are being followed.
  • Call 911 if there is an immediate safety concern.

Parents, caregivers and children are encouraged to reach out for help, please check out the mental health, addictions and substance use health services website

Where to find help

If anyone is in crisis, please contact:

For additional mental health support and resources for parents and caregivers, children and youth.

For more resources available in Ottawa, please visit our Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources web page.

For more information on bullying and online safety

Content adapted with permission from:

  • PREVNet
  • Ontario Government

 

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit Health811.ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Public Health Nurse and other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

 

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