Do you know what bullying is?
Bullying is when someone is being made fun of, called names, humiliated, excluded or threatened with the intention of hurting them, whether it's in person, online, by text or by phone, or when someone is being hit or beaten. It's not a spat between friends or a conflict between two people of equal status, a one-off event or teasing where everyone is having fun. You can DO SOMETHING about bullying.
To find out more about bullying, click here.Do you think that you are being bullied? To find out more about it, click here.
Did you know that the bill aiming to prevent and stop bullying and violence in schools has been adopted into law? Click here to find out more.
What can you do about bullying?
- You might witness bullying or be told about it by a student who is being bullied.
- The parents of a victim of bullying, a witness or a bully might contact you to share their concerns or to ask you questions.
In every one of these cases, you are part of the solution.
How to recognize a victim of bullying
A student who is being bullied might not have any physical injuries. To be able to do something, you need to listen and be attentive in order to recognize the signs of bullying.
- Have you noticed a change in the student’s behaviour during social interactions?
- Does the student seem anxious or depressed (sad, unhappy, irritable)?
- Has the student suddenly lost interest in things he or she liked to do?
- Does the student have low self-esteem?
- Is the student afraid to go to certain parts of the school?
- Are the student’s grades lower for no apparent reason?
- Does the student often say he or she feels sick?
- Does the student talk about suicide, running away or dropping out?
How to recognize a bully. Some of the common signs are:
- They have a strong desire to dominate.
- They have poor interpersonal skills.
- They believe that aggression is a good way to solve a conflict.
- They see hostility where there is none.
- They feel little remorse and have difficulty showing compassion.
You are part of the solution
You must intervene when you witness bullying.
- Evaluate the physical risk and put a stop to the incident. (Seek help if you feel it necessary.)
- Explain clearly and firmly that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. If there are witnesses nearby, make sure they also hear you. Don’t forget there’s a level of acceptable behavior expected of students and kids.
- Report the incident to the appropriate authorities and write a report.
- Refer to the school’s policy on dealing with bullying and take action according to your position and responsibilities.
- Depending on their respective needs, send the students involved to the school psychologist or psychoeducator, or to the social worker at the school’s local CSSS.
- Offer your support to the victim. (Be very careful not to make him or her feel more vulnerable by speaking as though he or she is defenceless.)
- NEVER take it for granted that this is an isolated incident.
- If you feel that the victim’s safety or your own safety is at stake, do not hesitate to contact the police.
You can also help prevent and put a stop to bullying
- Make sure that you properly identify the students who are being bullied and those who are the bullies.
- Listen to victims and witnesses of bullying who confide in you, and take them seriously.
- Listen to parents who talk to you and work with them to find solutions.
- Talk to the parents of bullies to make them aware of the situation.
- Organize bullying awareness and prevention activities in the classroom in conjunction with professionals who are specialized in the area.
- Encourage students to report incidents of bullying whenever they witness them.
Cyberbullying is your business too.
Do you know what it is? Click here.
Even though cyberbullying takes place in cyberspace (in many cases off school grounds) it often draws upon events that have happened at school and can even be carried out using school equipment.
- Be attentive to students in order to detect any type of cyberbullying.
- Be aware of online activity during computer labs and limit access to social networks.
- Prepare workshops on the use of social networks to remind students how important it is to respect the privacy of other people. And also remind them that they must not snoop around in anyone else’s computer files, MP3 players or cell phones.
- Create awareness among students of how far-reaching online activities can be. They must never write something that they wouldn’t say to another person face to face.
- Encourage them to interact with others in a positive way.
- Teach them to respect other people’s online space.
- Explain to them that spreading rumours, revealing personal information and sharing photos or videos without someone’s permission can be as harmful as physical violence.
- Explain to them what will happen if they continue to bully others (suspension, expulsion from school, complaints filed with the police, legal proceedings).
The critical role of the school administration
The school administration:
- Is responsible for setting up a plan to prevent and deal with bullying and violence at school
- Is responsible for establishing the rules of conduct that set out what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, as well as disciplinary measures
- Establishes systems for submitting a complaint concerning bullying or violence
- Takes all complaints concerning bullying or violence seriously
- Sets out processes for recourse and reintegration when a student is suspended
- Sends a report summarizing each complaint and its outcome to the principal and the student involved
Tools for school principals are available at http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/violenceEcole/index_en.asp.