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About half of Canadian parents say their child has been bullied: Poll

By Sheena Goodyear, Postmedia Network

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Nearly half of Canadian parents say they have a child who has been bullied at school, but expert Wendy Craig says the real number is much bigger.

According to an Angus Reid poll, 46% of parents said their child had been bullied, whereas 75% said they were bullied themselves when they were in school.

"We would expect that parents would under-report children's experiences," the Queen's University psychology professor and bullying expert said.

The existing research shows only half of bullied kids tell their parents what's happening to them, Craig said.

"Parents just don't know it's more substantial than that."

Still, Craig said the survey highlights some promising news.

For one, Canadians almost universally agree that bullying is a serious issue, with only 3% saying the problem has "been overblown."

That shift in attitude might explain why bullying is much more likely to be reported now than when the parents were in school.

But parents are split on whether reporting helps. In fact, 14% reported it "only made matters worse."

Craig suggested that's because there's a huge variation in both how schools handle allegations, and what parents expect.

The key, she said, is followup — both with the victims and bullies, and everyone's parents.

"I think many schools are good at dealing in the immediacy, but it's the monitoring and following where they fall short," she said. "We deal with the crisis but it's how we follow up on the crisis that matters."

It's especially important to focus on children who are bullied consistently, she said.

"It's those kids who are more frequently bullied that are going to have the negative effects."

Angus Reid polled 1,511 Canadian adults online Feb. 18-19. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


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