Stand Up Against Bullying

Bullying is a form of aggression where there is a power imbalance; the person doing the bullying has power over the person being victimized. Power can come in many forms and can include attributes such as physical size, age, and social standing. Bullying is an intentional act — the bully wants to have an effect on the victim. Bullying is also repeated over time, provoking extreme anxiety in the victim.

stockvault-school-children130955_School kids

Bullying can be

  • Physical: using physical force or aggression against another person, such as pushing and hitting
  • Verbal: using words to verbally attack someone such as through taunting and name-calling
  • Social/relational: hurting someone through excluding them, spreading rumours, or damaging their reputation

negativespace-15_Girl on iPhone


Cyberbullying is an insidious form of bullying because the bully uses electronic media to intimidate their victim. This medium affords the bully anonymity: the victim might be unable to identify the culprit. Anonymity may empower the bully to say and do more destructive things than they would in face-to-face situations.
Another troubling aspect of cyberbullying is that the taunts, threats, insults or images that have been posted to the internet are almost impossible to remove. Once offensive material has made it into cyberspace, it may be there forever.  Offensive material can be easily and rapidly distributed; in little time, it can go viral and reach a large audience.

The potential for victimization occurs each time the victim connects to their phone or computer — which for many teens is often: On average youth between 13 to 18 years of age check their phones for messages every 6.5 minutes – that’s 150 times a day.

Data in the US shows that cyber bullying has increased, partly because of growing access to social media.

Who Is a Bully?

stockvault-portrait-of-a-womanamp039s-face-in-rope130959There is no typical bully. Research suggests that kids with elevated psychopathy or conduct disorders are much more likely to bully. Bullying is also more likely among popular, high status, and socially competent kids. But anyone can be a bully. Many students who bully do not see their behavior as bullying; they justify and rationalize their behavior in a number of ways.

89 per cent of Canadian teachers said bullying and violence are serious problems in our public schools. They ranked cyberbullying as the issue of highest concern out of six listed options. Bullying impacts students’ ability to learn: victims report a loss of interest in school activities, higher absenteeism, lower-quality schoolwork, poorer grades, tardiness, and more skipping or dropping classes. Despite that, over half of bullied children do not report being bullied to a teacher.

Statistics on Bullying in School

  • In a 2010 research project studying Toronto schools, 49.5 per cent of students surveyed had been bullied online.
  • Between 4 and 12 per cent of students in grades 6 through 10 reported having been bullied once a week or more often.
  • Over 80 per cent of the time, bullying happens in the presence of peers, and 57 per cent of the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds of a bystander stepping in.
  • Boys are more likely to experience direct forms of bullying (such as physical aggression) while girls experience more indirect forms of bullying including cyberbullying.

stockvault-hand-on-computer-mouse147460Protecting Ourselves from Cyberbullying

There is no way to fully protect a child against bullying. The most important thing for kids is to have a trusted adult they’re connected to, that they trust, and to whom they can go if something happens. Establishing such relationships before bullying becomes a problem is an important first step.

Here are some tips from the RCMP on what someone who is being bullied can do:

  • Walk away or leave the online conversation.
  • Keep track of the bullying (write it down and/or save a screenshot of the online message).
  • Report the bullying to school administrators.
  • Report criminal offences, such as threats, assaults and sexual exploitation to the local police detachment.
  • Report unwanted text messages to your telephone service provider.
  • Report online bullying to the social media site and block the person responsible. Social media sites have ways to report bullying and inappropriate online behaviour, and to block people from interacting with you online.
  • Tell a trusted adult. If you don’t trust anyone or need to speak with someone urgently, contact the confidential and toll-free helplines like Kids Help Phone, or Youth Against Violence Line.
  • You can also text 211 for support.

211: Resources Against Bullying

stockvault-girl-using-touch-screen-phone143956The 211 texting program allows youth who are experiencing bullying to send an anonymous text message to 211. bc211 provides professional support and information on services in the victim’s community that can help.

The 211 texting service was initiated through a pilot project in partnership with the I AM SOMEONE Ending Bullying Society, and TELUS. The pilot provided youth in the Tri-Cities area with a texting tool to get help around bullying. I AM SOMEONE was formed in 2012 by community leaders in Port Coquitlam following the tragic suicides of a number of local youth. I AM SOMEONE’s mission is to educate and empower individuals, businesses and communities to be the effective change to end the hurt from bullying through support and technology.

To date youth are texting about bullying and other issues such as mental health, loneliness, gangs, sexual exploitation, date violence, hate crimes, discrimination and abuse.

lucho-15_Sitting aloneAdult Bullying

Most of this article has dealt with bullying as it relates to children and youth. However, anyone at any age can be a victim of bullying. A review of call and texts about bullying received by bc211 since 2013 points this out: 30% of contacts we received were from or for youth less than 18 years old:

  • 10% were youth calling on behalf of themselves
  • 20% were parents who were concerned about children bullied at the school.

Of the remaining bullying-related calls:

  • 60% were from callers ages 19 to 54
  • 10% were from callers over age 55 and older, including incidents of bullying in seniors facilities.

Adult bullying may be more subtle than bullying among youths, but it carries the same impact on its victims.

If you’re looking for resources around bullying, remember: the 211 text messaging service is open to people of all ages seeking community services in southwestern BC. For more information, visit If you’re seeking resources within your community, text the name of your community to 2-1-1 between 8 am to 11 pm, or dial 2-1-1 anytime of the day. You can also visit The Red Book Online, our online directory of resources.