Bullying concerns everyone and anyone can be a witness to or a victim of bullying at some point. Bullying can take many different forms and occur in many different settings, for example at school, work or anywhere else. No matter how or where it happens, bullying has serious consequences for the victims.
Bullying may be a part of other problems, such as domestic violence, homophobia, abuse or sexual assault. In Québec, bullying is addressed in various laws, including the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Education Act and the Criminal Code.
Definition of Bullying
Bullying generally refers to behaviour, words or actions that:
- May be intentional or unintentional
- Are repeated
- May be direct or indirect
- Are intended to harm or hurt
- Occur where an imbalance of power exists between 2 or more people, for example, within relationships of power or control
Types of bullying
Examples of behaviour
Physical: Actions that are physically harmful.
Verbal: Words that are psychologically harmful.
Social: Actions that have a negative impact on a person’s social relationships or standing in a group.
Material: Actions that damage a person’s living environment or deprive them of their belongings or property.
Bullying can also happen online, on social media or in text messages, emails and blogs. This type of bullying is called cyberbullying.
You will find examples of bullying situations in different environments in the “Bullying” section on the website of the ministère de la Famille.
Consequences of Bullying
Being bullied has a wide variety of harmful consequences, both for the person who is bullied and their family and friends and for bystanders. These consequences can affect physical health, mental health and social relationships.
Here are some examples of the consequences of bullying:
- Feelings of distress
- High stress level
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of humiliation
- Symptoms of depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight loss or gain
- Various physical ailments, such as stomach aches or headaches
- Deterioration of overall health
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem
- Learning difficulties
- Problems concentrating
- Missing school or work
- Dropping out of school
- Social exclusion
- Acts of delinquency
The consequences of bullying and cyberbullying can vary depending on the person and their particular characteristics.
It is hard to accurately define the characteristics of people who get bullied.
However, some personal characteristics may increase the risk of being bullied. For example:
- Having low self-esteem
- Being introverted (withdrawn)
- Having difficulty getting along with others
These characteristics may also increase the risk that a person use bullying as a way of taking their place in society. Indeed, in some cases, people who are bullied or have been bullied in the past start bullying other people themselves.
Bullying is often aimed at groups of people who are seen as different because of prejudices that exist about them. These prejudices may, for instance, have to do with:
- Belonging to an ethnic or a cultural group
- Sexual orientation or identity
- Appearance or a physical feature, such as weight or a disability
- Presence of personal problems such as substance dependence, homelessness or delinquency
Protection and Prevention
Some personal characteristics help to reduce the risk of someone experiencing bullying or intimidating others. For example:
- Being self-confident
- Being able to stand up for yourself and express yourself
- Having social skills such as:
- Being able to initiate contact easily with others
- Being able to make friends
- Being respectful and kind towards others, etc.
Other personal characteristics can prevent bullying and have a positive effect on social relationships. For example:
- Promoting equality in relationships between people
- Promoting human behaviour towards other people that is intended to help them and contribute to their well-being and quality of life
Last update: November 27, 2017