Bullying involves serious harmful and unwanted behaviours that negatively affect
people physically and/or mentally. This section will help you understand what
bullying is, how it affects people, and where you can get help for yourself or
someone else who is experiencing bullying.
Bullying is harmful and unwanted behaviour that is repeated over time. It
occurs when someone uses their power to hurt, frighten, exclude or insult
someone else. Bullying can come in many different forms, including:
Physical bullying: harassing someone by spitting, shoving, tripping, kicking,
hitting, beating up, or using any other physical force. It also includes destroying
or stealing personal belongings. Also includes standing in someone’s way or
using their body to block them from getting to where they need to go.
Emotional or psychological bullying: harassing someone with verbal attacks,
threats, hurtful comments, name-calling, teasing, or unwanted sexual
comments. This can also include gaslighting and other forms of psychological
abuse such as alienating members of the team.
Cyberbullying: harassing someone over social media, text, email, websites and
other digital channels. This may involve spreading rumours, making fun of
someone, or sending private or embarrassing information or images of a person
without their permission.
Social bullying: harassing someone by excluding them, spreading rumours,
gossiping, humiliating them, damaging their reputation or friendships, or giving
them “the silent treatment.”
Discriminatory bullying: harassing someone based on sexual orientation,
ethnicity, gender identity, religion or anything else perceived as making them
(Alberta Human Services, 2015; Kids Help Phone, 2022; PREVNet, 2019).
In Canada, at least 1 in 3 adolescent students have reported experiencing
bullying and almost half of parents have reported having a child that is the
victim of bullying (Mental health Commission of Canada, 2022). Additional
statistics suggest that 40 % of youth have been cyberbullied (Schneider et al.,
2012). Furthermore, 2SLGBTQIA+ students experience discrimination 3 times
more frequently than their peers (Canadian Institute of Health Research, 2012).
40% or nearly half of Canadians are bullied in the workplace every week (Safe
Canada, 2022). Around one-third of the Canadian population has experienced
bullying as a child (Safe Canada, 2022).
● being afraid to go to school or complaining about feeling ill to avoid
● skipping school
● having poorer performance at school
● losing belongings or coming home with clothes or books destroyed
● coming home, or arriving at school with unexplained bruises or cuts
● having physical symptoms like stomach pains or headaches
● having nightmares
● becoming depressed or uncertain about themselves
● becoming withdrawn or beginning to bully other children
● engaging in self-harm
● attempting or talking about suicide
Similarly, adults who are experiencing bullying may show warning signs that
Feeling helpless, vulnerable, stressed, or frightened
Expressing irritability, agitation, anger or frustration
Feeling alone, embarrassed or ashamed
Eating or sleeping, either too much or too little
Using substances to cope
Having physical symptoms like stomach pains or headaches
Missing or losing interest in work, school, or social activities
Experiencing increased family tension and stress
Becoming depressed or uncertain about themselves
Thinking about suicide
(Government of Alberta, 2022)
The effects of bullying are immediate and long-lasting. For persons experiencing
bullying, these may include:
Anger and frustration
Substance use problems
Stress-related health problems, such as headaches, and stomach aches
Absenteeism from school and/or work
Engaging in self-harm behaviours
Thoughts of suicide and death by suicide
Persons who bully others are also negatively affected by bullying. They may
Substance use problems
Academic problems and increased rate of school drop out
Sexual harassment and dating aggression
Gang involvement and criminal behaviours
Difficulties in relationships
Experiencing bullying at the hands of others
Being the target of bullying can be hurtful, scary and isolating. Remember,
you’re not alone and it isn’t your fault! Here are some things you can do:
• Keep yourself physically and emotionally safe by taking actions such as,
avoiding certain people and situations as much as possible, turning off social
media and surrounding yourself with people you trust.
• If you are experiencing bullying at school, you can report it to school staff. If
the bullying is happening outside of school, you can contact the emergency
services in your area. You can also talk to a parent, caregiver, teacher or other
safe adult for support and advice.
• Talk to people you feel you can open up to and don’t be afraid to ask for
• Eat healthy foods, get enough rest and be active and social. This will help
you stay positive and cope with any stress you’re experiencing.
(Kids Help Phone, 2022)
not OK and ask them to stop. This can be done verbally or in writing. You can
also ask the person who’s experiencing the bullying (and any other people who
are present) to leave with you and go somewhere else. Check-in with the
person who’s experiencing the bullying, asking them if they are OK and
reminding them that the bullying is not their fault and help is available. Support
the person in reaching out to a safe person, such as a teacher, principal, coach,
parent/caregiver, employer, or neighbor to discuss the bullying (Kids Help
Phone, 2022; PREVNet.ca, n.d.). If the person experiencing bullying is having
thoughts of suicide, connect them with help by calling 811. If that person tells
you they have a plan of how they will kill themselves, call 9-1-1 or escort them
to the nearest emergency department (Centre for Suicide Prevention, 2015).
You might also reach out to the person who’s bullying to share your thoughts
and feelings about their behaviour. Start by checking in to see how they are
doing. Half of youth who have engaged in bullying behavior also report
experiencing bullying themselves, so it is likely the person is experiencing their
own struggles. Next, let them know that it is not OK to treat someone else this
way. You can also offer to help them get supports so they can work through any
issues that may be resulting in the bullying behaviour. Finally, remember to take
care of yourself, as witnessing bullying can be stressful (Government of Canada,
2022; Kids Help Phone, 2022).
You might feel sad, scared, or angry to know that your friend is experiencing
bullying. There are things you can do to help your friend, such as being there to
listen and encouraging your friend to get additional support if needed.
Here are some ways to help a friend who’s experiencing bullying:
Offer support and help.
Remind them it’s not their fault and they’re not alone.
Help your friend stay safe physically and emotional (e.g., be with them at
times when they’re more likely to experience bullying and help them
manage their social media.)
Encourage your friend to keep a record of the bullying (when, where, what
happened, etc.), which can be useful if they report the bullying.
Encourage your friend to report the bullying to a safe adult.
Ask other friends and peers to help you support your friend by stopping the
spread of rumours, for example, or hanging out and doing something fun as
Get support for yourself by talking to a friend, a parent/caregiver, teacher
or other safe adult. There are also helplines you can call, text, or e-mail for
support, including the Kids Help Phone. Call 1 (800) 668-6868, text
CONNECT to 686868, send a message on Facebook Messenger or visit
(Kids Help Phone, 2022).
want to talk to a trusted adult or a counsellor who can provide you with
support and guidance.
Sometimes, people are involved in group bullying without really knowing how
or why it started and they might be feeling pressured by the group to
participate in bullying. Here are some things you can do to try to stop the
● Walk away when the group is bullying
● Tell others in the group to stop the bullying
● Tell the group you no longer want to take part in bullying, and the next
time it happens, you’ll take a stand.
● Suggest the group try a new (positive) activity.
● If your friends don’t accept your decision to stop taking part in the
bullying, you may want to end the friendship and try making new,
(Kids Help Phone, 2021).
feel free to visit the following websites:
Bullying Canada: https://www.bullyingcanada.ca/get-help/
Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying: www.prevnet.ca
Kids Help Phone: https://kidshelpphone.ca/
Mental Health Commission of Canada:
Government of Canada: