Crime Prevention & Safety for Individuals : Safety for Children & Teens: Bullying - Age 8-10 | Bullying - Age 11-18 | Bullying - Advice for Parents

Bullying - What Can Parents Do?


It can be heartbreaking for parents to know their child is being bullied. All they want to do is protect their children from all the hurts in life. Few people make it through childhood without some kind of teasing, but when teasing becomes continual, cruel and upsetting, it goes too far and becomes bullying.

According to the Bullying Canada website, the four most common types of bullying are:

Verbal Bullying – name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative references to one’s culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments

Social Bullying – mobbing, scape-goating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down

Physical Bullying – hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings, unwanted sexual touching

Cyber Bullying – using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone

Signs Your Child May Be Being Bullied

  • withdrawal from family and friends
  • a drop in grades
  • torn clothing or unexplained bruises
  • not wanting to go to school
  • needing extra money or supplies
  • taking toys or other possessions to school and regularly “losing” them
  • unusual bed wetting

What Can You Do To Help Your Child?

  • Having a conversation about bullying is a good start. Give your child the chance to talk about what is happening and take their complaints seriously. If they are unable to talk about it with you, find them another adult or a counsellor they are willing to confide in. They can even speak anonymously with a counsellor at Kids Help Phone (http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home/splash.aspx). Kids can also report bullying anonymously online through this provincial government website.

  • Assure them it is not their fault and you are not going to take away their Internet or cell phone.

  • Determine the type and severity of the bullying before deciding on a course of action. If there is violence involved, notify the school and the police may need to investigate.

  • Teach them how to resolve arguments without violent words or actions, such as using humour to diffuse a situation.

  • Teach them how to walk confidently and how to stand up for themselves by being assertive and telling the bully to go away.

  • Understand that in most circumstances, the best plan is to walk away from a confrontation.

  • Let your child’s school know and discuss options with the teachers, caregivers and school counsellor. Most schools have a strict “no tolerance” policy on bullying.

What Can You Do If Your Child Is The Bully?

Most bullies act out of feelings of insecurity, anger or loneliness. Talk to your child’s school counsellor or a child psychologist to find appropriate strategies to use at home to help your child.

Depending on your child’s age, you may want to increase your supervision of their activities and interactions involving other children.

It’s important to take it seriously. The bullying behaviour is not likely to stop unless you take action. Ask for help.

Cyber Bullying

Kids today seem to spend more time online than they do watching television, which has provided another avenue for bullying to take place. Unlike a child who is bullied at school, cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day every day. The good news is that this type of bullying often leaves behind evidence and doesn’t rely on your child’s word against their bully’s.

Examples of Cyber Bullying

  • posting nasty things about someone on Facebook and other websites
  • sending abusive texts, emails or instant messages
  • creating websites to harass and torment someone

Tips for Dealing With Cyber Bullying

  • Have your child save and print copies of all relevant texts, emails and other communication, as well as save voicemails.

  • Your child shouldn’t respond to the bullying and should block contact, if possible.

  • Ensure your child’s privacy settings are the highest on Facebook and other social networking websites and that they have not provided their personal details online, such as their date of birth, their address, phone number or even the school they attend. Remind them never to share their passwords.

  • Report any cyber bullying to the website they are on, as well as your Internet Service Provider.

  • Like other types of bullying, if the cyber bullying crosses the line and becomes harassment, involves threats or is a hate crime, it’s time to call the police.

Bullying and the Law

Most incidents of bullying are not actually illegal, but you should report the following to your local police:

  • Hate crimes – if your child or their property is targeted because of their race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, that is classified as a hate crime
  • Assault
  • Robbery or Theft
  • Harassment and Threatening – incidents that take place over a prolonged period of time that causes your child to fear for their safety. It can include being followed, unwanted communication and threats.

How Does This Facebook Thing Work Anyway?

It's a really good idea to learn about the online world your children are visiting. If you don't have a lot of confidence or knowledge about some of the social networking or gaming sites they visit, here are some suggestions:

  • ask your child to tell you about the sites

  • visit the library or your local book store and ask for book recommendations

  • talk to the parents' committee at your child's school and see if they will bring in an expert to speak with parents

More Information


Cyberbulling Research Centre

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has great advice for keeping children and teens safe, both online and in the real world.

Protect Kids Online

Kids in the Know


Need Help Now

Erase Bullying - report online anonymously


Parents Canada

Be Web Aware

Keep Your Kids Safe

Call it Safe - BC Ministry of Education - advice in the following languages:





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