The pandemic has not put a stop to bullying in schools, leaving educators to find new ways to try to stop the spread. (Photo credit: Mary Pahlke/Pixabay)

The pandemic has not put a stop to bullying in schools, leaving educators to find new ways to try to stop the spread. (Photo credit: Mary Pahlke/Pixabay)

COVID-19 has changed bullying in schools and how to fight it

The North Okangan and Shuswap district has used a variety of online resources to tackle bullying

Bullying in the school system has not gone away with COVID-19, so School District 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) is using new strategies to tackle the problem.

Carol-Ann Leidloff, director of instruction for inclusive education at School District 83, said bullying seems to have followed students home when classes went online in the spring and summer of 2020. Help with the issue was also extended to students.

Leidloff and other B.C. educators were given information based on the monitoring of worrisome online activity by young people. She said online evidence of behaviours like drug use and suicide ideation increased in July and August 2020 but went back down when students returned to the support structure of in-person classes in September.

According to Leidloff, the pandemic has not been kind to the most vulnerable children and families. COVID-19 and the ensuing public health orders put increased pressure on many families. Leidloff said challenges at home, particularly domestic abuse, play out in a variety of ways at school, with bullying behaviours showing up among its symptoms.

Leidloff also linked pressures created by the pandemic with a rise in a variety of risky and harmful behaviours such as the use of drugs and unhealthy sexual activity.

When classes did return to schools it changed the way teachers covered course material, as well as the way anti-bullying information was presented. The lack of large school assemblies led anti-bullying information to be distributed class by class, and online tools have grown in importance.

One of the online anti-bullying resources available to school staff and students is the provincial government’s ERASE campaign. ERASE is an acronym standing for expect, respect, and a safe education. The campaign advises students to report if they are being bullied and to stand up for others. ERASE also maintains an online reporting tool which can allow students to tell a safe-schools coordinator about bullying or other issues that are troubling them or their classmates. Reports can be filed anonymously if the student prefers.

With many in-person social and recreational activities cancelled or limited due to the pandemic, social media use has increased; Leidloff said an increase in online conflict and cyberbullying has followed. Because of this, anti-bullying efforts have included work on helping kids use social media and other online information in a healthy way.

Some strategies are valuable regardless of whether the bullying takes place in person or online. Leidloff said efforts are made to help students identify the difference between bullying and conflict, and also to resolve conflict early before it leads to bullying. She said bullying usually has a power imbalance, the intent to hurt, and is repeated over time. Conflicts are among peers with an equal power dynamic.

She added that an emphasis is also placed on getting kids who are being bullied to turn to teachers, friends, or other supportive adults at the school.

According to Leidloff, awareness campaigns like Pink Shirt Day are beneficial for getting people talking about bullying, but one day isn’t enough. She said efforts are made year round to create a welcoming culture that does not tolerate bullying and encourages students who are experiencing it to report it.

She added that bullying is symptomatic of a need for further mental health supports for young people. Although School District 83 has a range of programs in place for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, more can always be done to prevent bullying.

According to a 2018 student health survey conducted across the Thompson, Cariboo, and Shuswap region, 56 per cent of students reported that they had been bullied at or on the way to school in the past year. Of those, 41 per cent said they had been deliberately excluded, 40 per cent had been teased to the point they felt extremely uncomfortable, and 10 per cent had been physically attacked.

Sixteen per cent of students (nine per cent of males and 22 per cent of females) reported being cyberbullied in the past. Six per cent of students reported missing school due to bullying.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Pink Shirt Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Ashcroft RCMP are warning businesses to be aware of a suspect passing counterfeit $50 and $100 bills in the Ashcroft and Cache Creek area. (Photo credit: Stock image)
Counterfeit money being circulated in Ashcroft/Cache Creek area

Police are warning local businesses to be on the alert for counterfeit cash

The former Ashcroft Elementary School building, which closed as a school in 2015 and is now operated as the Ashcroft HUB, pictured during Skip’s Run, June 2017. The board of education of SD74 voted on March 2 to sell the property to the society for a ‘nominal fee’. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
School district votes to sell Ashcroft HUB for ‘nominal fee’ to HUB Society

Amendment to motion seeks to keep school district’s financial interests in property secure

Cache Creek council say that budget meetings have to take place before a public meeting about the fate of the pool — first promised in May 2019 — can be held. (Photo credit: Journal files)
No date set for public meeting to discuss fate of Cache Creek pool

Council says public meeting cannot take place until budget discussions have been held

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
WATCH: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Most Read