Interventions to counter bullying

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Interventions to counter bullying
Interventions to counter bullying

Bullying can have serious consequences for the young person who experiences it and it is also nightmarish for the parent who learns that their child is a victim. How to react?


Bullying: in recent years, we've been talking about it more than ever, and that's good. Young people are better able to identify and denounce it. Nathalie Hamel, clinical advisor for Tel-Jeunes and the Ligne Parents, told us that the recurrence of calls and questions about bullying had greatly decreased: from 200 in 2011 to 49 in 2015. Does this mean that there is no more bullying in the province's schools? Certainly not, but one would think that there are less. As a parent, it remains essential to be able to recognize the signs and know how to act. Here is what Nathalie Hamel had to tell us about it.

What are the signs to recognize?

Your child might:

  • Avoid certain places or activities he used to do for no apparent reason;
  • Refusing to go to school or going early or coming back later;
  • Being afraid or becoming afraid of certain people, places or activities (for example: fear of taking the bus, going to your locker or going to physical education class);
  • Having difficulty concentrating in school, going so far as to see his grades drop;
  • Looking out of school or thinking about dropping out;
  • Isolating oneself from others, losing several friends in a short period of time, having few or no friends;
  • Often getting involved in conflicts or battles with other young people;
  • 'have stress-related symptoms such as: stomach aches, headache, nausea, difficulty falling asleep, loss of appetite or irritability or aggressiveness.

All these signs are not necessarily related to a bullying situation, but they deserve attention.

What is bullying?

Is it bullying or just kids fighting? This can be annoying.

Bullying is:

  • A behavior that causes distress in the young person who is the victim;
  • Behaviour that may or may not be intentional or unintentional and which has the effect of hurting, harming, isolating, threatening, controlling or punishing the other;
  • A behavior where there is an abuse of power by one or more young people towards a person;
  • A behavior that can happen once or may repeat over time.

Bullying canbe direct or indirect. Direct bullying takes place in the presence of the person being bullied through gestures, words and actions that are clearly directed at them (pushing, hitting, insulting, etc.). Indirect bullying takes place in the absence of the victim or behind their back, violent behavior is hidden, disguised and more difficult to identify (exclude or reject, spread rumors, etc.).


My child is being bullied. How to react?

You can open the discussion with our child by naming the signs that worry us. For example: “I noticed that your friend Mathieu has not called you for some time. Did something happen between you? Or: “I feel depressed these days, and you don’t seem to want to go practice soccer anymore. Why is that? »

Make it clear that you are there to listen, to follow his rhythm and to support him: “If you want to tell me something, I will be there to listen to you when you feel ready. "And if you don't want to talk to me about it, who would you feel comfortable talking about it with?" You can also ask him how he wants you to help him in the situation, the role he wants you to play. Finally, as a parent, don't hesitate to ask for help if you feel helpless or if your child's situation brings back dark memories that prevent you from giving him the support he needs.

Should Iget involved personally?

By talking to your child, you will have a better idea of the role your child would like you to have in the situation. Depending on the nature of the bullying and your child's age, if your child does not want you to tell the bully's management or parents, if they ask to handle the situation themselves, it is not advisable to go against his will. On the contrary, you must allow your child to regain power in his situation. But if he would like to report, or his life is in danger, you can talk to the school administration and even the police. Bullying is considered a criminal act in some cases, according to the Criminal Code of Canada.

The school doesn't take this seriously. What to do?

Notify the school administration of the situation by phone or in person. You should be informed of the measures taken to stop the situation. If you receive no response, notify the school administration in writing (with a copy to the school board administration) and ask for a response. If you still receive no response, notify the Student Ombudsman assigned to the school board.

At any time, if you believe your child is in danger, do not hesitate to call the police.

My child has witnessed bullying. What to do?

First, it is essential to congratulate your child for coming to talk to you about it and for breaking the silence. Then you can dissect the situation with him, helping him to find a solution.appropriate way to react. You can get him to reflect on the fact that his actions carry messages and that these can even change the course of events. For example, witnesses to bullying may side with the bully or remain silent. These reactions contribute to perpetuating the acts of intimidation.

You can work with your child to list the different ways they might react as a bystander. Then, let your child choose a way to respond that they feel comfortable with. If your child decides to report acts of bullying to school or police authorities, you can ask him if he needs your support in this process.


If your child admits to being the victim of cyberbullying, it is best to remain calm and take the time to thank him for the trust he has shown in you. Avoid reacting too strongly to this news by making him feel guilty for not telling you about it sooner or even by cutting off his access to the Internet. Although your child is being bullied online, they still need to stay connected to the virtual world. This represents for him a part of his social life. Cutting him off from the Internet could have the perverse effect of further isolating him. On the other hand, adopting an open attitude could be reassuring for him, who often fears excessive intervention from his parents. Listen carefully to his story, and ask him:How do you feel? How do you want me to help you? What do you think you should do in your situation? » Your child will feel that you support him, empower him, listen to him, without judging him and, above all, without acting in his place.

A vast campaign against violence in all its forms is currently underway. Its first part aims to demonstrate that cyberbullying or participating in cyberbullying causes real consequences.

What are the resources?

As a parent, and especially if we ourselves have been affected by bullying, we can choose to have recourse to a psychologist or a social worker to help us be equipped and equip our child bullying victim. Similarly, our child can also use such services at school or in another environment.

In addition, the Ligne Parent and Tel-jeunes are available resources; as well as sites like or Éducaloi, which offer information about bullying.

A new reference

Stéphanie Deslauriers is a psychoeducator, speaker and author, and for years she has worked with children and adolescents with various needs (emotional, psychosocial, neurodevelopmental) as well as their family. In her most recent book, Children's Games – The right hour on bullying, she proposes to debunk certain myths related to bullying. His approach isboth refreshing and destabilizing: she herself admits wanting to “make people react in order to make them think”. The 160-page essay therefore presents the problem in nuance and forces us to ask ourselves some disturbing but necessary questions about the role, among others, of the parent in the cycle of bullying. It also forces us to put ourselves in the shoes of the bully, who is not just a "mean bully", as depicted, however, in some media.

It also offers several possible solutions, and parents, as well as school staff, would benefit greatly from reading it. As Stéphanie Deslauriers explains so well in her book, one of the keys to curbing the problem is education, and to better intervene, it is essential to better understand.

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