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What is Bullying?

Bullying

Bullying in any form is never acceptable and should never be considered as a “rite of passage.” Bullying is a serious issue that not only impacts the victim directly, but also affects other students, families and society at large. Victims of bullies often suffer from side-effects of bullying that can last into adulthood – anxiety, loneliness, withdrawal, depression – and victims of bullying can also turn into bullies themselves thus perpetuating a vicious circle.

What is bullying?

Ontario’s Ministry of Education defines bullying as a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.

Policy/Program Memorandum 144, Ontario Ministry of Education http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/144.html


Bullying can come in a number of different forms.

  • Physical – hitting, shoving or damaging property;
  • Verbal – name calling, mocking, or sexist, racist, or homophobic comments;
  • Social – ostracizing or alienating a person or spreading gossip or rumours about them;
  • Electronic (cyberbullying) – spreading rumours and hurtful comments through the use of online mediums such as social networks, text messaging, email, etc.

Bullying: We Can All Help Stop It, Ontario Ministry of Education, http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/bullying.html


What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is sending or posting messages online that can be interpreted as harassing, threatening, libelous or slanderous. This includes creating fake social networking profiles containing misleading and malicious information, or registering a website with malicious content, or posting malicious content into a website.

Changes were made to Ontario’s Safe Schools Act in 2007 to ensure that there are strong consequences for inappropriate behaviour against other students, teachers or school staff which can result in suspension or expulsion.

According to a survey by McAfee on Cyberbullying in 2010, 52 per cent of teenagers said they knew someone who has experienced cyberbullying, while 29 per cent had said they experienced it themselves, and 25 per cent reported that they wouldn’t know what to do if they were bullied or harassed online.

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has always taken a proactive approach to her work and believes we can take the same approach to bullying. That is why she has created Stop Bullying… by Design.

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