Cyberbullying amongst students is on the rise in Kenora according to the Ontario Provincial Police.

The description that BullyingCanada gives for cyberbullying is using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put down, spread rumours, or make fun of someone.

OPP Provincial Constable, Jason Canfield thinks the COVID-19 pandemic has had a hand in the cyberbullying increase that he has seen.

“With it [COVID-19] coming into place and the lockdowns kids were forced to spend more time than ever on their devices,” said Canfield. “Kids are spending a lot more time on it, maybe getting bored. If there are underlying issues that were happening before school with kids not liking each other this stuff is continuing.”

Canfield noted that the bullying he has seen isn’t ending at the final school bell.

“A lot of these happen late at night so when most kids should be sleeping after 11, and midnight some of these messages are being sent. If the kids didn’t have the cell phones with them none of this would be happening.”

Canfield wants to warn parents that cyberbullying is/could be happening and is predominantly happening on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Tik Tok, and Instagram. He believes these platforms are the root of the problem.

BullyingCanada says that in Canada, at least 1 in 3 adolescent students have reported being bullied.

They added studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.

The OPP does have programs in place to try and prevent, and decrease cyberbullying and bullying in general.

“The OPP does teach a program called the OPP Kids to the grade six students, which does cover cyberbullying and the ramifications. We also work hand-in-hand with all the schools to try and teach kids.”

In some instances, police will use local organizations to assist kids, as well as place students in the same room to resolve the issue.

Though arrests are the last resort for police there are charges that can be laid in the bullying goes too far.

“The Criminal Code does have multiple charges that could be put in place, kids could be charged if needed. We would be willing to charge if it justified it. If there is fear of someone being hurt, bodily harm or even death, then we do have to take it on a case-by-case basis.”

Police say your child should not respond to cyberbullying, because it can fuel the fire and make the situation worse. Police recommend that you should always keep and save the messages, pictures, texts and more, as these can be used as evidence.

Other safety tips from police include:

- Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block emails or texts from specific people.

- Limit access to technology. Although it's hurtful, many kids who are bullied can't resist the temptation to check websites or phones to see if there are new messages.

- Keep the computer in a public place in the house (no laptops in children's bedrooms, for example) and put limits on the use of cellphones and games. Most websites and smartphones include parental control options that give parents access to their kids' messages and online life.

- Know your kids' online world. Ask to "friend" or "follow" your child on social media sites, but do not abuse this privilege by commenting or posting anything to your child's profile. Check their postings and the sites kids visit, and be aware of how they spend their time online.

- Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it's a bad idea to share personal information online, even with friends. Write up cellphone and social media contracts that you are willing to enforce.

BullyingCanada says that bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences that could include:

  • Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.
  • Shyness

  • Stomachaches

  • Headaches

  • Panic Attacks

  • Not being able to sleep

  • Sleeping too much

  • Being exhausted

  • Nightmares

If you or anyone you know is getting bullied call the BullyingCanada hotline at 877-352-4497 or the OPP at1-888-310-1122.