Is your child bullying or being violent toward other students?

Take preventive action.

Children of all backgrounds and ages can sometimes commit acts of violence or bullying.

Whether it's to amuse themselves, impress their friends or pay someone back for a perceived injustice, both girls and boys can commit acts of violence or bullying without being fully aware of the seriousness of the consequences for the victims. It is important to recognize the signs if you wish to show your child that you are opposed to this type of behaviour.

Recognize the signs.

Bullies and perpetrators of acts of violence show certain distinctive signs. The most common are:

  • feeling a strong need to dominate others to maintain his or her status in a group
  • lacking social skills (e.g. not knowing how to gain acceptance in a group)
  • believing that aggression, violence and bullying are good ways of solving conflicts
  • wrongfully attributing hostile intentions to others
  • reacting impulsively in certain situations

Some young people may also:

  • lack empathy and be insensitive to the distress of others
  • project a false image of confidence or self-assurance
  • find it hard to be assertive and to make themselves feel appreciated
  • feel little remorse for wrongdoing and find it hard to show compassion

You can do something to help your child stop bullying or being violent.

If you discover that your child has been bullying or acting violently toward other students, explain the gravity of the situation and the impact of his or her words or actions on others. Also, offer your child your support in getting out of this impasse. For example:

  • Remain calm and listen to what your child has to say.
  • Make it clear that you take the situation very seriously.
  • Talk to your child about other ways of expressing anger or getting his or her way without harming others.
  • Engage your child in a discussion of acts of violence or bullying he or she has seen on television, in films, in video games, or on the street.
  • Remind your child that it's important to respect other people, regardless of their differences (e.g. sexual orientation, race, physical strength or weakness).
  • Try to spend more time with your child and to monitor his or her activities.
  • Try to find out who your child's friends are and how they spend their free time.
  • Listen to people who tell you that your child is bullying or lashing out at others, whether you hear this from school staff, a coach, a parent or guardian, or another student.
  • Tell your child about the consequences that may be in store if he or she continues to bully or lash out at others (suspension or expulsion from the school, police complaints, legal consequences).
  • If necessary, ask for help from the school psychologist or counsellor or, depending on your child's needs, of a social worker in a health and social services centre (CSSS).
  • Contact the school administration if you think that your child is bullying or lashing out at others, so that you can get appropriate support.

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