Dealing with bullying

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Bullying is repeated, aggressive behaviour towards one person from another person or a group of other people. Bullying is hurtful. It can occur in many different forms. Bullies can hurt someone physically, verbally, socially (through exclusion or spreading rumours) or electronically (see cyber bullying below).

Here are some things to try and some things to remember if you’re being harassed and want to stop it.

  • Talk to someone you trust, such as your parents, a friend, a teacher or a counsellor. They can help support you and find ways to stop the bullying. If you talk to someone and they can’t help, then talk to someone else. Don’t give up! Bullying is a difficult problem and often many people need to get involved for it to stop.
  • Act confident, hold your head up, make eye contact and walk confidently.
  • Stay close to friends you can trust to stick up for you.
  • Avoid areas where bullying takes place.
  • Ignore the bullying and walk away. Make them think you don’t care. This can also be very hard to do. If they know they’re upsetting you, they’ll do it more, so use all your acting skills to pretend it doesn’t bother you.
  • Set some time aside to do things that help you feel good about yourself.

Cyber bullying

Social media opens so many ways to connect with people all around the world, which is amazing. You can make friends with someone in your own neighbourhood or half way across the planet. However, communicating with people online – everything from chatting one-on-one through your phone to posting anonymously on a website – also has risks.

Some people can be very unkind when communicating through a screen. Sometimes it may not be an intentionally nasty remark – more like something sent in fun.

What counts as cyber bulling?

A single incident, such as a once-off offensive text or direct message, is not defined as bullying, even if someone is being mean or the message is upsetting.

However, putting a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social media site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people is seen as bullying.

So it is not just the person who originally posts the message that is a bully. Sharing or commenting on content on social networking sites or joining, subscribing to or following online sources of content that are intended to humiliate or harm individuals can also be considered bullying behaviour. And once something is posted publicly you lose control over who sees it and it could stay online forever!

Paying attention to what you say online

It is important to try to think about how other people might receive your messages online. Through a screen, you cannot know if what you write is being viewed as funny or cruel. Nor can you see how what you are texting affects the person reading it. So try to be kind online and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness instead of putting others down for being different.

How to respond to cyberbullying

Here are some things to try and some things to remember if you’re being harassed online and want to stop it.

  • Don’t respond or reply to messages that harass or annoy you, even though you may really want to. Getting a reaction is exactly what the sender wants. They want to know that they have got you worried or upset. They are trying to mess with your head, so don’t give them that pleasure. If you respond with an even nastier message it makes them think that they really got to you and that is just what they want. They might even complain about you!
  • Tell someone you trust. Talking to your parents, friends or someone else you trust is usually the first step in dealing with any issue. In the case of school-related bullying messages, also talk to a teacher you trust or your guidance counsellor. There are also people you can talk to if you need to speak to someone straight away:
    • Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
  • Report offensive content to the people who can do something about it. Responsible websites and mobile phone operators provide ways for you to report things like bullying content or other nasty online material.
  • Take a screenshot (see instructions) of any bullying messages. You don’t need to read them again, but you should keep a record, as you will need to have evidence to get help from others. Teachers, principals, website owners, mobile phone companies and the police will all want to see evidence before they can take any action to help you.
  • Block the sender – you don’t need to put up with someone harassing you. If you are getting upsetting messages online, you can usually block the person from your social media or app accounts simply by clicking the block button.
Last updated: January 31st 2017