What Bullying Is … and Isn’t

Turner Valley School News – Ask the Principal

The topic of bullying is very important to address in today’s world. The actual word ‘bullying’ is unfortunately used by students and adults in many situations, without an understanding that bullying, conflict, threats and social skills are not the same thing. Interestingly, the word ‘bullying’ is mostly used by parents of kindergarten and Grade 1. It is the age where kids are learning how to use social skills and how to interact in groups this size and as a result there are improper interactions at times. However, the first thing that comes to our minds when our child complains about someone who hurt them is bullying.

If we’re going to prevent bullying, we have to know what it is, and what it isn’t. Here’s what bullying is according to the Provincial Government in the new Education Act: “bullying” means repeated and hostile or demeaning behaviour by an individual in the school community where the behaviour is intended to cause harm, fear or distress to one or more other individuals in the school community, including psychological harm or harm to an individual’s reputation.”

The important words to note are ‘repeated’, ‘hostile’ and ‘intent to harm’. It is also important to note that the exact same occurrence can be bullying in one situation but not bullying in another depending on ‘repeated’, ‘hostile’ and ‘intent to harm’.

If there is a concern about bullying, what should you do? Proper protocol is…

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. Step in and say stop, or tell a teacher right away.
  • 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. Every teacher is here to help and support you. Your homeroom teacher is the first choice, and/or the teacher on supervision. If you feel your voice is not heard you can go the Principal.

If you’re a parent:

  • Listen to children. If someone tells you bullying is happening at school, listen, find out details and if you are concerned take proper action such as…
  • Realize there are two sides to every story. Even your own child misses/forgets/leaves out details at times. Be willing to look into the matter and be understanding of all sides.
  • Never be afraid to contact the teacher. Always contact your child’s homeroom teacher if there are concerns. Sometimes the teacher may not be aware, or the issue was dealt with and not shared out to the class. If after visiting with the homeroom teacher you feel the issue is not resolved you can always approach the Principal.
  • Confidentiality. Understand that if there is discipline required, we do not share what is done to one child with other parents.
  • Be careful how you use the word bullying. Even if you suspect it, labeling a kid as a bully in front of your child before you know or have looked into the whole situation can cause more issues….’perception may not be reality’.
  • Be Supportive. Every adult in the school is trying their best to care for every child. Some issues are not resolved over night, but by working together and being consistent, aware and watchful we can find ways to be successful.
  • Be a positive role model. Set a good example, reinforce positive behavior and create constructive leadership situations at home. Many times children mimic what they see at home. Most inappropriate behavior is learned. Try monitoring what they watch on TV and play on video games as this is one of the most common places kids learn the words for threats and violence.