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What is bullying and how can we prevent it?

Bullying happens in many different situations, in person or online. It is behaviour that makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable.  

There are many ways that young people bully each other, even if they don’t realize it at the time.  

2 hands saying No with person lying on couch in background

How to recognize bullying

  • Verbal bullying is repeated, negative use of words or sign language to intentionally hurt others. For example, name-calling, using hurtful words, spreading rumours, threatening, discrimination, or offensive language. 
     
  • Social bullying is excluding others from a group, blaming others for things they did not do, humiliating them, or using public gestures or graffiti to put them down.  
     
  • Physical bullying is the repeated, negative use of physical contact to intentionally hurt others, like kicking, punching, slapping, inappropriate touching or spitting. 
     
  • Cyberbullying is using social media, email, text messages, websites or other online and mobile ways to harm other people by intimidating them, putting them down, spreading rumours, or making fun of them. Social media often allows bullies to remain anonymous when they share damaging messages.  

Did you know?

It’s scary to call out bullying behaviour, whether it’s happening to you, or to someone near you. It takes courage to speak out in situations that may be harmful to people. It’s not easy to know how to do that, but by caring and speaking up, you are helping to support someone who needs help.  

Youth sits in school hallway with arms over their face

How bullying affects our youth

Bullying can have long-term negative effects on our youth.   

  • It affects miyupimaatisiiun, and all aspects of well-being: mental health, physical health, physical health, learning and education.  

  • Bullying can cause youth to miss school and be absent from class.  

  • Being bullied can lead to a person becoming withdrawn and depressed.  

  • It affects their self-esteem.  

  • It can lead to serious consequences such as suicide.

What can parents and guardians do to stop bullying?

All adults - including parents - should talk openly about bullying with the children in their care, and should be prepared to deal directly with any problems that arise, whether at school, among groups of friends, or in other social situations.

 

Youth holding signs that say 'stop bullying'

What can youth do?

How to report bullying

When you see harmful, dangerous or upsetting behaviour, it is important to tell a responsible adult.  

  • In school, tell a teacher that you trust.  
  • You can also tell your parents or other family members.  

If you are a victim of bullying, or know of someone being bullied and need help: 

  • Speak with a Youth Outreach Worker at your local high school – they are there to help. 
  • You can also call the Wiichihiiwaauwin helpline.  You can ask to speak to a Cree speaker or traditional healer if you prefer. 

Support

Wiichihiiwaauwin (Mental Health) Helpline

Service available 24/7. Cree speakers and Elders are available upon request 

Computer keyboard with red poison symbol

What you can do if you are being bullied online

  1. Stop: Don’t try to reason with or talk to someone who is cyberbullying you. 
     
  2. Block: Use the block sender technology to prevent the person from contacting you again 
     
  3. Talk: Tell a trusted adult, inform your school, use a help line and/or report it to the police 
     
  4. Save: Save any instant messages or emails you receive from the person bullying you, or capture any comments or images that have been posted online.

What is snitching?

  • Snitching is sometimes used to describe when someone “tells on” someone or calls out their negative behavior.  It may be seen as “calling someone out” in a negative way.  
  • One of the most common insults that we hear in schools is that someone is a “tattletale” or “snake” if they talk to a teacher about bullying.  
  • Using “snitching” language does NOT help the situation.  
  • Using terms like “tattletale” or “snake” for someone doing the right thing can cause damage.  
  • It can promote harmful bullying behaviour and create an environment where doing the right thing is punished.   
  • This could lead to others being too afraid to speak up.   
  • Using “snitching” words when calling out bullying can discourage other students, who may be much less likely to seek help when They need it. 
  • It may make bullying situations a lot more likely to take place without consequences. 

 

Words matter! Let’s use the right words to address our problems, and create more harmony.  

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