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POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 109 Canadians are concerned with the level of violence in today's society, the safety of their communities, and the welfare of their children. As we know, too many children are victims of violence and aggression in the schoolyard, the playground and elsewhere. Some studies indicate that violent behavior of young people is increasing, that the violence is directed at other young people, and that the violence is committed by younger people than was the case in the past. To prevent youth violence and reduce the rate of violent crime, research indicates that focusing on the early signs of antisocial behavior is effective. Bullying is one phenomenon that contributes to the development of such behavior patterns. Bullying is a serious problemfor those who engage in it, for its victims, and for the communities in which it takes place. It is not a normal part of growing up. It can make children feel frightened, sick, lonely and unhappy. Unfortunately, these childhood bullies are also more likely to develop anti-social behaviors (Farrington, 1993). Studies indicate that 30% to 40% of children with aggression problems grow up to have problems with violence as adults (Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick). Bullying changes its form with age: • Younger children's playground bullying often involves pushing, shoving, name calling teasing and isolation; • Teenage bullying may begin to include sexual harassment, gang attacks, dating violence; and • Adult bullying may become assaults, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment, and senior abuse l Education and Information Service of New Brunswick). For victims, repeated bullying can cause psychological distress and many related difficulties (Besag, 1989; Olweus, 1993). The impact of bullying extends beyond the bully and victim to the peer group, school, and community as a whole. It is important to stop bullying at a young age and strive to create a safe and peaceful environment for everyone. With an understanding of factors related to bullying, we can design prevention and intervention efforts that decrease bullying and increase the likelihood that teachers, parents and other children will intervene when it does occur. The Government of Canada's National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention was launched in 1998 to help Canadians deal with the difficult problems of crime and victimization. The National Strategy is built on the common sense principle that the surest way to reduce crime is to focus on the factors that put individuals at risk-factors such as family violence, school problems, and drug abuse - preventing crime before it starts. By providing tools, knowledge, and support, communities are able to address their unique issues of crime and victimization. In its work with communities, the National Strategy has placed a particular emphasis on children, youth, women, and Aboriginal people. The National Strategy endeavors to intervene early in the lives of our young people, addressing issues of antisocial behavior before they become more serious problems. Building resiliency and healthy environments for children and youth today will reap benefits far into the future. The Strategy supports communities and schools - working with students, parents, educators, and practitioners, and others in developing, and sharing, grass-roots initiatives to combat bullying. What is Bullying? Bullying is the assertion of power through aggression. Bullies acquire power over their victims physically, emotionally and socially. This can be done in many ways: by physical size and strength, by status within the peer group, by knowing the victim's weaknesses or by recruiting support from other children, as in group bullying. Emotional and social bullying may perhaps be the most frequent and harmful forms. Bullying can be physical or verbal. It can be direct (face-to-face) or indirect (gossip or exclusion) (Olweus, 1991). With repeated bullying, the bully's dominance over the victim is established and the victim becomes increasingly distressed and fearful. How Widespread Is Bullying? A 1997 survey of Canadians revealed that 6% of children admitted bullying others "more than once or twice" over a six-week span and 15% of children reported that they had been victimized at the same rate (Pepler, et al.). Researchers' observations of children on playgrounds and in classrooms confirm that bullying occurs frequently: once every 7 minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in class (Craig and Pepler, 1997). To understand the problem of bullying, we must consider the characteristics of everyone involved in the bullying scenario: the bully, the victim and the bystander. We must also examine the social contexts in which bullying occurs, such as the family, peer group, school, and community. Bullying In Canada continued...

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