Bullying in schools is a very serious concern that can lead to school violence. Whether your child is the victim or a bystander, bullying should be reported immediately.
Bullying occurs when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using hostile or demeaning behaviour. The behaviour can be habitual and usually involves an imbalance of social or physical power. Bullying involves minors on both sides, or at least has been instigated by a minor against another minor.
EPS' Cyber Bullying Prevention Video
School life is being transformed by mobile phones, the Internet, and social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Kids as young as six years old are learning and playing online, teenagers are speaking a new language through texting, and students now have an entire World Wide Web to draw from when doing homework. While the majority of these interactions are positive, there is a dark side. Bullying is an age-old problem for students, but the anonymity of Internet communications is bringing the harmful practice of bullying online, as some kids are using these communication tools to intimidate and threaten others. Because of this, many Internet Service Providers and social media sites are working to put a stop to this destructive behaviour.
Cyber bullying occurs when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Cyber bullying involves minors on both sides, or at least has been instigated by a minor against another minor.
Cyber bullying is a Crime
Some forms of online bullying are considered criminal acts. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is a crime to communicate repeatedly with someone if your communication causes them to fear for their own safety or the safety of others. It is also a crime to publish a "defamatory libel" - writing something that is designed to insult a person or is likely to injure a person's reputation by exposing him or her to hatred, contempt or ridicule.
A cyber bully may also be violating the Canadian Human Rights Act if he or she spreads hate or discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or disability.
Tips to Help Protect Your Child from Cyber bullies
- Learn everything you can about the Internet and what your kids are doing online, including social media sites, chat rooms, and smart phone apps.
- Talk to your children about responsible Internet use and ask them about the websites they visit and apps they use. When necessary, use parental control software to block specific sites.
- Teach your children to never say or post anything on the Internet that they wouldn't want the whole world, including you, to read or see.
- Create an online agreement or contract for computer use, with your child's input.
- Encourage your children to come to you if someone says or does something online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
- Watch for the signs - a reluctance to use the computer or go to school may be an indication that your child is being cyber bullied.
How to Report Bullying and Cyber bullying
If your child is being bullied in any form, do not be afraid to report it. Depending on the severity of the crime and the information provided, you can report any incident of bullying, online harassment and physical threats to:
- The social media sites in question (Facebook, Twitter, etc.);
- School teachers and principals - if the bully is a student at your child's school, ask for help in resolving the situation; and/or
If your child is being bullied and your child’s school has a School Resource Officer, contact the Constable. They can:
- Provide advice on steps to take to reduce the offender’s ability to target your child;
- Advise you to block or drop bullies and cyber bullies from your child’s phone service, social media sites, and report abuse to the service providers;
- Assist in determining who is responsible for the bullying and deal with them appropriately;
- Assist in reaching a solution and may suggest that your child be present in a mediation meeting with the offender or offenders. This will be their choice and will depend on their comfort level; and
- Launch a criminal investigation in cases where threats to personal safety, home, family members, or pets are concerned and charges may result.
For more information and tips on cyber bullying see the links below: