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Several of the staff recently attended an Erase Bullying session in Kelowna, which was led by an RCMP liaison officer.  This is a program developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, the RCMP and many other interest groups such as parents, teachers, and various child and family serving ministries.  This will be a two part session with the second part happening in the spring.   There were many excellent points made in the first session but a key take away was the differentiation between Conflict, Mean Behaviour and Bullying.


The continuum is:

1. Conflict – a natural part of growing up.  Children will have

times when they disagree and can’t solve their own

problems.  They may even become so frustrated that

they say mean things or act out physically by hitting, kicking or trying to hurt.  If it is peer conflict you will be aware that these children usually choose to play or hang out together, have equal power (similar size, social status, age, etc), are equally upset, are both interested in the outcome and will be able to work things out with adult help after calming down.  Conflict isn’t necessarily bad, children learn many skills they will need in life while working through conflict.

2. Mean Behaviour – Children may try out behaviours to assert themselves – sometimes saying or doing mean things – such as making fun of others, using a hurtful name, taking something without permission, leaving a child out, or “budging” in line.  If it is mean behaviour the following applies: It is not planned and seems to happen spontaneously or by chance, it may be aimed at any child nearby, the child being mean may feel badly when an adult points out the harm they’ve caused.  Adults should respond quickly, firmly and respectfully to stop the behaviour, to let kids know that their actions are hurtful and to re-direct children to more positive behaviour.

3. Bullying Behaviour – Bullying is serious behaviour that has three key features – all three must be present for the situation to be considered bullying: Power Imbalance - One child has power over the other, which may be due to age, size, social status, and so on.  Intention to Harm – The purpose of the bullying behaviour is to harm or hurt others, it’s intended to be mean and is clearly not accidental.  Repeated Over Time - It continues over time and gets worse with repetition and escalates.  There is a real or implied threat that the behaviour will not stop and in fact will become more serious.  The acronym used to remember the guidelines to determine if it is bullying is “FIR” or “FIRS”.  F = frequency   I=intensity   R=repetition   and sometimes S = site specific.  Adults must address the problem, ensure the safety of the student being bullied.  Schools also work with the child who has been bullying to take responsibility for their actions and change their behaviour.  Schools will monitor the situation to ensure the bullying stops and will support the child who has been bullied to regain confidence and a sense of safety.

The materials the staff received go into greater detail regarding management and student support but this is the general overview of the three areas on the continuum.   The above language is very helpful for staff, students and parents to keep in mind when identifying what may or may not be happening.  A short video is attached that will further explain the differences between Conflict, Mean Behaviour and Bullying.  

*information gathered from the “Level One Erase Bullying” Booklet