Fighting school bullying: advice and resources by the Pomerantz Foundation

According to UNESCO, globally, 1 in 3 students is a victim of bullying every month. In 2019, 20% of students aged 12 to 14 years were victims of cyberbullying.

In Quebec, a study by the Quebec Institute of Statistics (IST) reveals that 32% of high school students have been victims of at least one bullying act at school.

Understanding school bullying

UNESCO defines school bullying as:

“A harmful social process characterized by an imbalanced power dynamic, which stems from social and institutional norms. The actions are often repeated and manifest through undesirable interpersonal behavior by students or school staff, causing physical, social, and emotional harm to targeted individuals or groups, as well as to the entire school community.”

Main forms of bullying in schools include:

  • Physical aggression (hitting, kicking, punching)
  • Verbal aggression (threatening, insulting, making ethnocultural or sexual comments, cyberbullying)
  • Social exclusion (spreading rumors, belittling, excluding, cyberbullying)

Terry Pomerantz comments, “In other words, a small group of students ‘teases’, laughs, plays cruel tricks, shoves, or insults one particular student. This ‘nasty’ game can start on the school bus and continue long after school through cyberbullying. Humiliated, the victims withdraw into themselves, isolate and especially don’t talk to their parents. They come to believe that their bullies are so powerful that neither their parents nor their teachers can protect them.

Clearly, we must all act together – parents, school staff, community organizations, and students – to counter this scourge that is plaguing many school environments. The consequences of bullying children in schools extend far beyond the school gates!”

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The different types of violence

Causes of school bullying

Some school bullies, boys or girls, are children who want to fit into a group. Driven by a need for attention and complex emotions, these children are drawn to a ‘cool gang’ that appears more original and united in their eyes. To join, the ‘new members’ mimic bullying to ‘prove themselves’ and become popular within the ‘cool gang’.

Too often, these bullying boys and girls have themselves been witnesses or victims of bullying at school.

Lack of awareness of the steps to take against school bullying, misinformation among parents, the indifference of victims’ friends, and the lack of resources for school personnel also contribute to school bullying.

Targets of school bullying

Most causes of school bullying reflect the most common prejudices of our society. These include gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, physical or psychological disabilities, clothing, communication difficulties, shyness, etc.

Recognizing the early signs of school bullying

Often, it is the behavior of children at home and outside of school that indicates they are victims of bullying. Here are some telling behaviors:

  • The victim withdraws into themselves, talks less, isolates in their room at home, and becomes reluctant to ask questions or participate in group activities at school.
  • On the way home, the victim walks alone. On the school bus, they tend to sit alone or always with the same person.
  • The victim sleeps less than the required minimum (8 to 10 hours).
  • The victim is anxious about going to school or participating in extracurricular activities.
  • Victims of cyberbullying wake up at night to check social networks.
  • Their interest in studying, homework, and tests wanes, as do their academic results.
  • Bullying can lead to dropping out of school, especially in high school.

The role of educational institutions

Both parents and school staff, including crossing guards and school bus drivers, play a crucial role in helping the victim escape the vicious cycle of bullying and identify aggressors as quickly as possible.

As soon as a parent or school team member notices a change in a child’s behavior, they should approach them and attempt to establish a trusting relationship and dialogue so the bullied child can explain what is happening.

Main consequences of school bullying

In both aggressors and child victims of school bullying, we see the following consequences:

  • The victim often suffers from headaches, indigestion, anxiety, and even depression.
  • The risk of suicide increases in both the child who bullies and the one who is bullied at school.
  • Experts note higher risks of school adjustment disorders in both the aggressor and victim (absenteeism, poor academic performance).
  • Young bullies have a higher risk of consuming drugs and alcohol and committing criminal acts.

Advice for parents

Experts advise parents to get to know their children’s teachers and other adults in positions of authority:

  • Tell them you want to collaborate with them to fight against child bullying.
  • Participate in volunteer activities at school (e.g., extracurricular activities).
  • Invite other parents to get involved. Why not initiate a parent-teacher-student group dedicated to preventing child bullying?
  • Maintain a climate favorable to dialogue and communication of emotions with your child.
  • Do not impede the school’s anti-bullying measures.
  • If your child is involved as an aggressor, support the school if it takes corrective measures.

“We are all parents, and we love our children. But sometimes, unbeknownst to us, they take a questionable path. By trusting school staff and volunteer workers, you’re showing your child the highest level of trust and love,” emphasizes Terry Pomerantz.

The Pomerantz Foundation and Bullying Prevention

Under the leadership of Terry Pomerantz and his team, the Pomerantz Foundation dedicates all its efforts and fundraising programs to helping different and disadvantaged children.

Since its inception, the Foundation’s mission has enabled it to support financially many organizations that work with young people to help them overcome life’s challenges.

The Pomerantz Foundation team wishes to highlight the exceptional work of Sun Youth, whose sports activities help young people build self-esteem, develop social skills, face failure, and intervene appropriately to prevent another child from being victimized in school.

On behalf of all children, the Pomerantz family thanks its donors and volunteers, as well as all the workers who enable young people to protect themselves against bullying and to be proud of who they are.

Entrepreneur and prominent figure in Montreal's real estate and manufacturing sectors, Terry Pomerantz approaches every aspect of life with heart and character. At the helm of Domfoam and T.R.A.M.S Property Management, he carries on his late father's legacy while dedicating his philanthropic commitment to the Pomerantz Foundation, which has been actively supporting children's causes since 1991.