11/28/2016 02:20 EST | Updated 11/29/2017 00:12 EST

How To Fight Bullying This Holiday Season

Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Jennifer Murdoch, Associate VP, Counselling Operations, Counselling, Kids Help Phone. Jennifer shared with me more details on exactly what bullying is, and how you can help a young person you suspect may be being bullied.

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I remember entering grade 8 (which was referred to as Junior High School then) and having the older girls in grade 10 taunt me and it was very scary. At that time, I turned to my older sister who was a wonderful support for me and really helped me get through this period.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Jennifer Murdoch, Associate VP, Counselling Operations, Counselling, Kids Help Phone. Jennifer shared with me more details on exactly what bullying is, and how you can help a young person you suspect may be being bullied.

What is bullying?

Bullying comes in many forms, including name-calling, rumour-spreading, pushing and shoving. In fact, any negative, aggressive action that hurts, humiliates, demeans, frightens, or excludes someone is considered a form of bullying.

Bullying can happen almost anywhere - in classrooms, on the schoolyard, on sports teams, and even at home, and now more and more on social media and online platforms become a major part of how we communicate, reach out to each other and connect.

What causes someone to become a bully?

There is no one single profile of a bully. The act of bullying can stem from a young person trying to deal with personal problems of their own to a young person coping with being bullied themselves. And sometimes, kids can be involved in group bullying without even knowing who started it, or why they are doing it.

No matter how it starts, at Kids Help Phone we believe that the best way to stop bullying is to prevent it. Working to promote environments based on respect and empathy, and reaching out and being inclusive of others are great ways to stop bullying from happening in the first place.

Who does bullying effect?

Bullying affects a lot of young people and at Kids Help Phone we hear from many young people who are impacted by bullying.

Some of the youth who call us are experiencing bullying, others are bystanders, and some are bullies themselves. Sadly, many young people who are bullied are too afraid or too embarrassed to ask for help. That's why it's important to empower young people and help them to change their situation. When we remind them that they have a choice to tell someone, to ask for help, or to reach out and be there for a friend or a classmate, it can make a big difference.

Why is it important to address bullying? What impact could it have if it is not addressed?

Bullying is anything but a "normal" part of growing up. While it can be difficult to deal with because it can be very persistent, it is important to address it as it can leave its targets not only with permanent injuries but also with long-lasting emotional scars as well.

However, concerns like bullying and cyber-bullying can be hard for adults to talk about with the young people in their lives. That's why Kids Help Phone has created Tools & Resources where you can read and download tip sheets with hints and advice about some of the most common challenges facing young people today. You can use these tools to help the young people you care about.

What does Kids Help Phone do? How do they help young people in need?

Kids Help Phone is always open for kids in every moment of crisis or need. For the subject of bullying, that includes talking about being bullying, having bullied, or watching it happen. Young people call us about so many different things that are going on in their lives, from body or self-image issues or stress at school, to abuse and thoughts of suicide. Young people can reach one of our counsellors by phone or LiveChat, and also have access to a wide range of tools and resources through our website.

Research proves that Kids Help Phone counselling is highly effective: 84% of phone clients learn options or strategies for dealing with their problems and 71% of Live Chat clients experience an increase in clarity on how to move forward.

If a person is getting bullied or suspects their friend is being bullied what can they do?

Again, it's important to remember that young people who are bullied are usually embarrassed about it and may not want you to get involved; you should adjust your response according to the situation, what's happening and how it's affecting that child. If the child's safety is at risk, contact the necessary authorities -- the school principal for example or, in more serious cases, the police.

The most important things to tell a child who is being bullied are:

It's not your fault. It can be stopped. It's okay to ask for help.

Don't fight back -- more violence or hurtful words will not solve the problem.

You have a right to protect yourself -- find ways to stay safe and get the support you need.

I will help you, or find someone who can.

What is the Bootlegger and Kids Help Phone Collaboration?

Newly released in time for holiday gift giving, Bootlegger's limited edition Plush Slipper Socks are available in three festive styles: reindeer, Santa and a bear. Find them at every Bootlegger location across Canada as well as online at Retailing for $10, $1 of each pair sold goes to the Kids Help Phone, with the hopes of raising $10,000.

Why are partnerships like these so important?

Kids Help Phone is very thankful for Bootlegger's support. This partnership, and partnerships like this help ensure that Kids Help Phone is always open and help send the message to kids that it's okay to reach out for help.

I hope this blog post was helpful and informative for you, if you need any more support or have questions, please contact the Kids Help Phone and they will have the resources and assistance you need.

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