Are You Aware of the Problem of Bullying Among Children in Your Community?

Posted by Abdul Yussuf, Manager Settlement and Integration Program at Somali Centre foe Family Services

This Newsletter provides you with information about the problem of bullying among immigrant children. It helps you to identify signs that bullying is occurring, to understand the consequences of bullying and to seek ways of preventing it.

Ottawa is a multi-cultural city with ethnic communities from all over the world as diverse as those from Somalia, Italy, Arabia, and China. Although Ottawa provides anti-bullying programs, especially in the schools, there are limited resources for targeting the problems faced by newcomer families. Moreover, the forms of bullying and level of concern about it may vary from one community to another.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is an abusive act or pattern of behaviour that is intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Among children this may take many forms, from social rejection or isolation, to verbal slurs and hand gestures, to racist acts, to outright physical injury.

Bullying can take place anywhere—in the classroom, the playground, the recreational centre, the street, and the home; and cyber bullying on the internet is now widespread.

Research suggests that such behaviour is more frequent among boys than girls and is especially prevalent in middle schools or junior high schools.


Bullying may have significant long-term consequences with respect to the behaviour, personality and development of social skills of the child who has been bullied as well as of the bully. Both the bully and the victim may later turn to such anti-social or criminal behaviours as physical violence, shoplifting, drug use, etc.

Children new to Canada are often at a greater disadvantage than those born in Canada or those who have been in the country for a significant period of time as they, and their parents, may have no understanding of bullying practices in the Canadian context. Lack of language skills may add to their difficulties. Newcomer children may find themselves bullied by children not only in the wider community but also by those within their own ethnic community who have been longer in the country and who themselves may have been bullied at an earlier date.

Although no culture openly supports bullying, some cultures may tolerate bullying more than others. In Canada there is increasing public support for zero tolerance of all forms of bullying.

Signs that a child may be being bullied

As parents and family members, it is important that you know how to recognize the signs that your child, or other children, may be being bullied. The most common signals are:

  • Physical injuries that a child cannot explain or does not want to talk about.
  • Unhappiness about going to school or to group activities, or even refusal to attend.
  • Low self-esteem, moodiness, lack of appetite and depression.
  • Nightmares and sleeping problems.
  • Poor grades at school.
  • Lack of peer group friends.
  • Frequent loss of personal items, such as pens, phones, sports equipment, etc.

One or more of the above signs may not mean that bullying is occurring, but such signs require your close investigation.

Signs that a child may be bullying others

You should also be vigilant in watching out for children who are bullying others, Common signals of a bully’s behaviour are:

  • Unusually aggressive behaviour, physical or verbal, at home or elsewhere.
  • Harassing or teasing others publicly even though a child may say that he/she is only joking.
  • Unusually competitive behaviour in sports or other physical activities.
  • Blaming others and not taking responsibility for his/her actions.
  • Acquiring new items or money that they have not been given by adults.
  • Joining gangs at an early age.
  • Disliking other children who appear to be different because of race, religion, language, physical disability, etc.

Again, such signs may not mean the child is a bully, but they require close investigation.

Prevention of Bullying

As a newcomer parent what can you do to help prevent bullying? Neglecting to identify and address bullying related cases among children in the schools, recreation centres, and neighborhood as well as homes will contribute causing depression, emotional or psychological problems, mental health problems and suicide among bullied children.

Parents can contribute very important role preventing bullying by watching closely about the behavior of their child at school and home.

It is a fundamental that the parents to develop a good personal strategy to reduce or eliminate bullying in order to have positive effect of your children both academically and socially in their lives.

There are various methods you can reduce or eliminate bullying in our society. The new Canadians require search for information that will help improve their knowledge to solve and prevent bullying among children.

I present some important ways that you can improve to prevent bullying.

  • Be aware of the signs of bullying in your home and in your local community and know where you can seek more information, advice and guidance.
  • Talk to your children about bullying…..Make them bully-proof or create a bully-proof environment at home and teach your how to deal bullying and create a safe environment and talk to your children actions when they are at schools , recreation centres , on bus etc.
  • Listen to your child it is important to listen to your child and encourage your child to report if they encounter bullying
  • Seek advice from teachers, recreational leaders, doctors, neighborhood groups, ethnic associations, and police. Hotline
  • Step in when you see an act of bullying and talk to the bully.
  • Help to develop awareness programs in your immigrant community.
  • Develop a community discussion forum among Students, teachers, parents and community members etc. and share
  • Participate in Training programs on how to prevent bullying.
  • Engage to your children at school and home and teach them to respect others and Share information of bullying both with teachers, counselors and polices officers.

According to the policies of Ottawa Carleton School Board (OCSB), bullying is not acceptable at schools, school buses and any other place where school activities are happening. There are many supportive resources in the case that you seek assistance.

If you feel that your child is bullied at school. The first action that you can take is to contact teachers, principals, school counselor and education board etc.

Parents should read a guide for parents by ministry of education and contact resources for the children.

For more information, visit the OCDSB websites.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Ontario ministry of citizenship and immigration Heritage Canada Foundation The City of Ottawa United Way / Centraide of Ottawa Ottawa public library Community Foundation of Ottawa Ontario Trillium Foundation

Copyright © 2010 Somali Centre for Family Services

Date Modified: 2014-12-02