Police AssociAtion of novA scotiA 69 Are Canadians too nice to Bully? Facts and Myths about Bullying ...continued community problem, not just a school problem. As the primary institution in children’s lives, schools can play a leadership role in addressing bullying problems. Solution: Adults are essential for children and youth’s healthy relationships. All adults are responsible for creating positive environments, promoting healthy relationships, and ending violence in the lives of children and youth. They are role models and must lead by example and refrain from using their power aggressively. Adults must look for, listen, and respond to bullying. Adults can organize social activities in ways that protect and support children’s relationships and stop bullying. Myth: Bullying does not occur within the family or the family home. Fact: Unfortunately, bullying does occur within families. Bullying is defined as a relationship problem in which there is repeated aggression by a person with greater power directed at a person with lesser power. Repeated aggression within family relationships is most commonly called “abuse” or “family violence”, and within peer relationships it is called “bullying” or “harassment”. The family is the first context in which children learn about relationships, and lessons learned in the family provide the foundation for future relationships. Research shows that there is a developmental connection between experiencing or witnessing abuse in the family, and experiencing or perpetuating bullying and abuse in future relationships. If we look closely at the elements of the definition of bullying, we can clearly see the overlap and subtle distinction between bullying and abuse, with abuse being a form of bullying that implies a violation of adult responsibility. * “Occurs in the context of a relationship”. Abuse can also occur in romantic relationships between couples (spousal abuse, woman abuse), parents and children, (child abuse, elder abuse) and in other relationships in the extended family (grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). Bullying can occur within sibling relationships and between cousins. * “When one person in the relationship has greater power than the other”. In a romantic relationship, there is often an imbalance of power due to biological, cultural, psychological and economic factors. It is clear that parents have greater power due to the child’s immaturity, vulnerability, and dependence on the caregiver. In relationships between adult children and their elderly parents, the balance of power becomes reversed as the caregiving role is reversed. Between siblings or cousins, it is often, but not always, the older child who has greater power because of greater size and maturity. * “Repeated aggression”. Aggression can take many forms, but the common denominator is disrespect of another human being’s rights to physical and psychological safety and sense of dignity. Within families, there is a universal expectation that those with greater power assume responsibility to safeguard the well being of more vulnerable family members. When there is a repeated pattern of the violation of this responsibility, either by neglect or by acts that cause distress, we use the term “abuse”. When children and youth bully their peers, they violate the rights of the other; however they are not in the same position of responsibility for safeguarding the wellbeing of the other, due to their own immaturity. Thus, bullying can be seen as a signal that the child or youth needs support in learning about relationship values and skills. Solution: It is critically important that children experience secure and healthy relationships in the family. It is imperative that we teach our children that relationships in which there is a power imbalance are precisely the relationships in which the person with more power has the responsibility to safeguard the well being of the more vulnerable person. Through modeling respectful relationships and taking responsibility for the well being of those who are dependent and vulnerable, both within and beyond the family, adults can help to promote healthy relationships and prevent bullying and abuse. extracted from: