Caring, respectful and safe learning environments

Bullying Prevention

We Can Stop Bullying!

We all want to stop bullying in Alberta’s schools and communities. We can do it—if we work together. If you’re a student, parent, teacher, someone else involved in education or a community member, we invite you to explore these pages to see what Alberta’s Prevention of Bullying Strategy is all about and how you can be part of the solution. Here, you’ll discover the following: 

What Bullying Is … and Isn’t

If we’re going to prevent bullying, we have to know what it is, and what it isn’t. Here’s what bullying is:  Bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate, repeated and hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm and/or threat of aggression. It can be verbal (name-calling, put-downs, threats, homophobic bullying, transphobic bullying, social (exclusion, gossip, ganging up), physical (hitting, damaging property) or cyberbullying (using the computer to harass or threaten). It can occur within a peer group or between groups. It can occur at school and in sports

Here’s what bullying isn’t:  

Bullying isn’t a normal part of growing up, and it does not build character. It is a learned behaviour that hurts everyone—those who get bullied, those doing the bullying, and the people watching. It damages our schools, our communities and our society at large.  Bullying is a relationship problem. It is the assertion of interpersonal power through aggression. Bullying involves:

  • repeated and consistent negative actions against another.
  • an imbalance of power between the bully and the target.
  • a contrast of feelings between the bully and the target as a result of the bullying episode (the child who bullies may feel excited, powerful or amused, while the target feels afraid, embarrassed or hurt).
The four most common types of bullying are:
  1. Verbal Bullying—name calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making references to one's culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted comments.
  2. Social Bullying—mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others, gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.
  3. Physical Bullying—hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying, unwanted sexual touching.
  4. Cyber Bullying—using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put down or spread rumours about someone.

Here’s what bullying isn’t: Bullying isn’t a normal part of growing up, and it does not build character. It is a learned behaviour that hurts everyone—those who get bullied, those doing the bullying, and the people watching. It damages our schools, our communities and our society at large. More information on bullying: 

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Is Someone You Know Involved in Bullying?

People engage in bullying behaviour for various reasons. Often they want to have power over others or feel the need to dominate. Here are some warning signs to see if someone you know is involved in bullying:

  • Not understanding or caring if someone is hurt

  • Having extra money or clothes

  • Boasting about taunting someone

  • Passing off teasing as a joke

  • Laughing when other kids get hurt

  • Demonstrating aggressive behaviour with peers (yelling, hitting or throwing)

  • Grouping together with some kids and leaving other kids out

  • Calling siblings or friends names

  • Demonstrating aggressive, angry behaviour toward parents, teachers or other adults 

  • Remember, both genders engage in bullying, and even adults bully.

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Is Someone You Know The Target of Bullying?

Children don’t always speak up when they’re being bullied because they’re embarrassed or afraid the person who is bullying will get back at them. Children sometimes believe they must remain silent in order to belong. The child’s behaviour may be a clue to bullying even before they are willing to talk about it.

Here are some warning signs to see if someone you know is being bullied:

  • Being afraid to go to school or complaining about feeling ill in the mornings
  • Skipping school or starting to do poorly in school
  •  Losing” belongings or coming home with clothes or books destroyed.
  • Coming home, or to school, with unexplained bruises or cuts.
  • Having nightmares, becoming withdrawn or beginning to bully other children.
  • Attempting or talking about suicide.

Additional information and resources

http://www.teamheroes.ca/                     
Aimed at children 3-11 years of age, the S-Team Heroes help kids learn about bullying prevention and intervention through this interactive online game.

http://www.b-free.ca/
Intended for youth 12-17 years of age, this site features interactive components and information about how youth can take a stand against bullying in their community.

http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca/
This website is an online resource for parents and other adults who are looking for more information on bullying prevention. It includes information on all types of bullying – social, verbal, physical and cyber – as well as fact sheets for parents, children, and youth.

http://www.egale.ca/
Egale Canada is a national human rights organization advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) equality, diversity, education and justice.

http://www.prevnet.ca/
The Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet) is a national network of Canadian researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments committed to stop bullying.

http://www.sacsc.ca/
Safe and Caring Schools & Communities is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to violence prevention and character education for children and youth.

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Bullying Prevention

We can all play a role in preventing bullying. Step one is to learn what bullying is so you can recognize it when you see it. Step two is to decide that bullying is not acceptable. And step three is for students, parents, schools, districts and communities to take action.

If you’re a student:

  • Be part of the solution. If you’re watching a bullying incident, you’re part of the problem. You’re the audience the bully wants, and you—more than anyone else—have the power to help.
  • Tell someone you trust if you’re being bullied. And don’t stop telling until you get help. Adults can help, and you will find one that will listen and act.
  • Get involved in your school’s bullying-prevention initiative. Take part in working groups and school committees, speak about bullying prevention at assemblies, join in events like workshops and role-playing that teach bullying-prevention skills, and be a leader for younger kids.  

Learn more about how you can Stand Up and Stop Bullying.

http://www.teamheroes.ca/                     
Aimed at children 3-11 years of age, the S-Team Heroes help kids learn about bullying prevention and intervention through this interactive online game.

http://www.b-free.ca/
Intended for youth 12-17 years of age, this site features interactive components and information about how youth can take a stand against bullying in their community.

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If you’re a parent:

  • Listen to children. If someone tells you bullying is happening, take action to stop it. If someone is exhibiting bullying behaviour, let that person talk about his or her experiences, and offer support in a non-judgmental way.
  • Be a positive role model. Set a good example, reinforce positive behaviour and create constructive leadership situations.
  • Set consequences. Make bullying unacceptable.
  • Get involved in your school’s bullying-prevention initiative. Share your concerns about bullying and your ideas for preventing bullying with the school participate in planning committees and know the procedure to use when bullying has occurred.
 

Learn more about bullying prevention.

http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca/
This website is an online resource for parents and other adults who are looking for more information on bullying prevention. It includes information on all types of bullying – social, verbal, physical and cyber – as well as fact sheets for parents, children, and youth.

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If you’re a teacher or principal approached by a student who is being bullied or wants to report a bullying incident: Remember that communication is the key!

  • Listen to the student.
  • Let students know you are there to support them and you will do all you can to help them feel safe.
  • Reassure students who are being bullied that bullying is not their fault. You may have to make numerous attempts before a student is able to break free from the fear of telling.
  • Help your school develop a plan for supervision and intervention during recess and noon hour and foster a climate where all students are safe and cared for, and can ask for help.
  • Work with parents to prevent and stop bullying.

Learn more about bullying prevention

http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca/
This website is an online resource for parents and other adults who are looking for more information on bullying prevention. It includes information on all types of bullying – social, verbal, physical and cyber – as well as fact sheets for parents, children, and youth.

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If you’re a superintendent or jurisdiction:

  • Remember that Alberta Education supports schools that are safe, caring, orderly, positive, productive, respectful and free from the fear of physical and emotional harm. All jurisdictions are responsible for is providing a safe and caring environment under the School Act. 
  • If a parent asks you to step in to resolve a bullying incident, encourage the parent and school to work together to come up with solutions.
  • Check in with the parent and the school regularly to monitor the situation.

Learn more about bullying prevention.

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Developing an Effective Bullying-Prevention Initiative 

Take a leadership position in preventing bullying by developing and implementing a bullying-prevention initiative!

 

There is no one bullying-prevention program, resource or approach. It will take a concerted, sustained effort by all of us to stop bullying in our schools and communities.

An effective initiative:

  • Emphasizes a shared responsibility for preventing and dealing with bullying
  • Assesses the scope and specific nature of bullying behaviours in your school or community
  • Focuses on changing the social environment
  • Builds support for bullying prevention
  • Is a coordinated, intentional approach
  • Builds a school- or community-wide understanding of bullying prevention
  • Uses positive and appropriate language
  • Establishes and enforces rules and policies related to bullying
  • Increases adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs
  • Intervenes consistently and appropriately in bullying situations
  • Teaches and reinforces specific skills in preventing and stopping bullying behaviours
  • Continues these efforts over time

Learn more about the components of a bullying-prevention initiative.

Steps for Developing a Bullying-Prevention Initiative

  • Gather data. Use surveys, class discussions and private meetings to find out how much bullying is happening in your school or jurisdiction, and what attitude staff, students and others have toward bullying.
  • Involve students. Use working groups, student committees, workshops and games to give students a role in developing or supporting the plan.
  • Involve parents. Parents have a primary role in teaching children and are involved in their children’s lives in other situations where bullying occurs. Share information and strategies with them or involve them in the development of the initiative.
  • Create an anti-bullying statement. Define common ground for staff, parents, and students and communicate the vision of a bullying-free school or jurisdiction with a statement that can be incorporated in your mission statement, code of conduct or behaviour plan.
  • Develop a supervision plan. Adult supervision is the most effective way to prevent bullying. Identify and man hot spots, give kids something to do, change the school schedule so the halls are less crowded, make sure co-operative learning is a good experience for all and train volunteer playground leaders to help younger kids with group games.
  • Develop a response plan. This includes guidelines, procedures and strategies for tracking incidents, supporting students who are bullied, responding to students who bully, responding to witnesses and planning ways to bring the parties involved in a bullying incident together. The response should encourage communication, help students develop empathy, promote accountability and encourage pro-social behaviour.
  • Involve community partners. Use surveys, planning committees, community meetings and guest speakers from the community to involve social workers, community centres, the police and others.
  • Monitor progress. Track incidents, conduct surveys and talk to students and staff to see what’s working, what’s not and what needs to change.

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Resolving Differences – Steps You Can Take

Working Together for Alberta’s Children

When your child is experiencing problems with bullying at school, you want to help as quickly as possible. We understand that you want to stop the bullying and make sure your child is safe and happy at school. That’s why we’ve established a six-step procedure to follow to help you and the school resolve disputes.Please note that you must follow this procedure in the following sequence. This procedure is very effective and has been found to be the best way to develop solutions that work for all parties.  

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher. If the two of you cannot resolve the concern, then: 
  2. Talk to the school’s principal or assistant principal. This person will work with you, the teacher, and school administration to resolve the problem. If a solution can’t be found, you will be referred to: 
  3. Talk to a staff member at the central office of the school system. If you do not agree with the staff member’s decision after your meeting, then: 
  4. Write or telephone the school superintendent and explain your concern. If this doesn’t lead to a solution: 
  5. Write the school board chairman to initiate a board-level appeal. Alternatively, if your school system allows, you can enter mediation and work out a solution there. If you have an appeal and don’t agree with the board’s decision after the board hearing: 

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Alberta’s Prevention of Bullying Strategy

The Alberta Government is taking a leadership role in bullying prevention and delivering the message that bullying is not acceptable.

In 2004, a roundtable on family violence and bullying was held in Alberta. After seven months of public consultation with 3,500 Albertans, the government established the cross-ministry Prevention of Bullying Working Group in 2005. The group is co-led by Alberta Education and Children’s Services.

A cross-ministry action plan is in place to take action in five key areas:

  • Promoting social change
  • Establishing provincial leadership
  • Developing a collaborative, coordinated community response
  • Providing services and supports
  • Ensuring accountability

The Prevention of Bullying Youth Committee supports the working group. This committee consists of youths aged 15 to 22 with diverse backgrounds, from across the province. They give feedback and advice to help the working group develop resources and move forward.

Through the joint efforts of Alberta Education and Alberta Children and Youth Services, three websites have been developed to help children, youth and adults learn about bullying and deal with bullying issues.

http://www.teamheroes.ca/                     
Aimed at children 3-11 years of age, the S-Team Heroes help kids learn about bullying prevention and intervention through this interactive online game.

http://www.b-free.ca/
Intended for youth 12-17 years of age, this site features interactive components and information about how youth can take a stand against bullying in their community.

http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca/
This website is an online resource for parents and other adults who are looking for more information on bullying prevention. It includes information on all types of bullying – social, verbal, physical and cyber – as well as fact sheets for parents, children, and youth.

Alberta Education’s Role in Preventing Bullying

Preventing bullying in schools is critical. Alberta Education is committed to fostering caring, respectful and safe learning environments and optimal conditions for teaching and learning through bullying-prevention strategies and effective behavioural supports.

Alberta Education provides information for parents, students, teachers, principals and others about bullying and bullying prevention.

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