The Shadow of a Victim

– Emily Laing and Miranda Smithspecial edition

What counts as “Bullying”?
The law on bullying in Quebec schools defines bullying as “repeated behaviour that causes distress and hurts, intimidates or excludes someone,” (educaloi.qc.ca). We know that bullying can happen in school corridors, in the classroom and on the playground but the website for the Ministère du loisirs reminds us bullying can also happen “in the streets, shopping centres, and even at home (siblings).” Bullying is an action or remark that “creates a feeling of distress in the person who is subjected to it.” (Government of Quebec, 2014)

To many people, gossiping is also bullying. We did a survey at Metis Beach School asking the high school if gossiping is bullying and 88% of high school students said: “Yes!”

There are all different types of bullying, most of the time people say that bullying is hurting someone on the outside but it is much more than that. Bullying hurts on the inside, the worst part it that it stays there if you don’t do anything about it. Which do you think is worse: hurting someone physically or with words? They both count when it comes to bullying.

How can you get help?  

Bullying comes in many forms: cyberbullying, threats, physical bullying, etc. Maybe you are feeling alone right now that you just want to scream out to the world, you are tired of people picking on you everyday, twice a day. Do you feel that way?

You can and should talk to the people you trust. Telling someone isn’t tattling, it is self-protection. Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, your favourite teacher, even someone you never thought would talk to you, it is important to tell someone. You are probably feeling pretty bad, these people can help you face the problem, support you and make you feel better.

You can also call a helpline like Kids Help Phone at 1-880-668-6868. This helpline is for people aged 20 and under, it is free, open 24/7, anonymous and confidential, and non-judgemental. All calls are answered by professional youth counsellors.
You can also check out the Kids Help Phone website at www.kidshelpphone.ca for more advice about bullying as well as other important topics.

What’s your part in it?
How can you help the victim?

Being a bystander isn’t easy because if you don’t report bullying it will continue. Bullies often do it for the attention. If you’re standing around and watching, it can encourage the bully. You can’t just stand there and watch the victim being bullied you have to tell someone you trust like a teacher or a parent. Try to picture yourself in the victim’s shoes, how would you feel?

Are you afraid of telling someone because the bully might get bullied for talking about it?  Most people who see bullying don’t report it. The way bullies work is they pick on the people they think they can control. It only takes one person to step in to help and more people will follow because everyone agrees that bullying is wrong. Also, school bullies are more likely to listen to their classmates than adults because classmates have an influence on their social status. Could you be that first person who makes a difference?
Talking is a big process in school bullying, it’s how it starts and how it ends. Talk to the person that is getting bullied, she/he most likely feels unimportant. Try to involve the person in your conversations or some groups that you think will be interesting for them, to create a positive network around them.

Find more advice here if you have witnessed bullying.
Find examples here of things to say when you see bullying.

What is Metis Beach School doing to STOP bullying?
There are a lot of things that Metis Beach School is doing. They have a plan that took them over two years to make! One way they help stop bullying at the school is that they have lots of school trips. The teachers pair-up the people who never really talk and who get in trouble with each other so that they have to work together and get to know each other. Even though they may not like each other at least they will respect each other!

Metis Beach School is small so it doesn’t have to take major action against bullying like in other schools. The bullying occuring at MBS is more on the verbal side, there are no fistfights – that hasn’t happened in over six years!

Another thing that MBS is doing is having guest speakers that come to the school and talk about bullying, how it happens and how to end it. Then we play games like the line game, where the teacher says a sentence like “people sometimes pick on me” and if it is true for you, you stand on the line with everyone else who has the same experience. These games help you to know that it’s not just you in that situation, that there are other people out there who are going through the same thing.

In the end people learn to get along with each other. There might always be someone being bullied but that’s why it is important to tackle bulling together and to keep looking out for your classmates. “Life isn’t easy it’s a challenge,” said a secondary student.

Serious facts about school bullying in Canada

  • At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying
  • Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth
  • Children who are bullied suffer more headaches, stomachaches, depression and anxiety. Mental health problems associated with bullying tend to last until later in life
  • Children who bully, and those who are bullied, will be more likely to miss school, show little interest in their studies and suffer poor grades
  • 71 per cent of teachers say they usually intervene with bullying problems; but only 25 per cent of students say that teachers intervene
  • Boys are more likely to experience direct forms of bullying (physical aggression) while girls experience more indirect forms of bullying including cyberbullying
  • Over half of bullied children do not report being bullied to a teacher
  • Victimized children who told an adult about being bullied reported being less victimized the following year compared to children who did not report being bullied
  • Whether you’re a witness or a victim of bullying or violence, your school has an obligation to act. For example, it must create support measures to help you. It must also ensure that your complaint stays confidential
  • The school must also have disciplinary measures for bullies. For example, it can suspend a student who has bullied
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