Bullying Can Happen At Any Age

February 23rd is ‘Anti-Bullying Day’ in Canada. On this day many people wear a pink shirt to symbolize taking a stand against bullying and bullying behaviours. This movement originated in Nova Scotia when in 2007 a child was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to their first day of school.

Childhood bullying can result in long-term impacts on self esteem, anxiety, depression, and physical health. Check out this link here for information on healing when you are an adult coping with the lasting effects of childhood bullying.

Adult Bullying Behaviours

Bullying is most commonly associated with children in school but in reality there is no age limit when it comes to bullying behaviour. If you are an adult and experiencing bullying you are not alone. Adult bullying behaviour can take place in a wide variety of settings:

  • workplaces
  • friend groups
  • families
  • universities
  • romantic relationships
  • online
  • between neighbours

Bullying behaviours usually will include some combination of:

  • belittling
  • humiliating
  • shaming
  • cruel ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’
  • rumours
  • unwanted/inappropriate personal comments
  • excluding
  • gossiping
  • oppressing
  • intimidating
  • threats
  • controlling
  • invading personal space
  • physical assaults

Bullying can have severe long term mental health impacts including anxiety, depression, and low self esteem. Gordon Neighbourhood House offers free short term counselling for our community. You can join the waitlist by emailing counselling@gordonhouse.org and you can find out more about our counselling program and our psycho-educational workshops here.


Cyber-bulling is when a victim experiences bullying online through virtual platforms. Examples include:

  • creating fake social media accounts
  • sending cruel messages or unwanted photographs
  • spreading rumours online
  • sharing intimate photos/videos
  • impersonating someone else
  • ridiculing someone on social media
  • harassment & stalking

This type of bullying is particularly insidious and can make victims feel as though there is no escape from their bully. Often the cyber-bully will think that by carrying out their bullying online in the virtual world that they can remain anonymous and are free from facing consequences in the ‘real world’. Most forms of cyberbullying are actually illegal in Canada. Check out more here and here and here.

Workplace Bullying

Workplaces are one of the most common settings for an adult to experience bullying behaviours. 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis according to Bullying Canada. The Canadian Mental Health Association published a guide for workplace mental health, with pages 33 – 37 focusing on workplace bullying and ‘mobbing’ behaviours. This guide includes tips for employers in mitigating against workplace bullying, such as having a specific anti-bullying policy.

‘Mobbing’ is a term used to describe a type of workplace bullying where individuals are targeted by a group of their colleagues through bullying behaviours such as:

  • systematic intimidation
  • character assassination
  • excessive blaming & criticizing
  • excluding
  • not sharing important work information
  • secrets
  • rumours
  • under-mining
  • cruel ‘jokes’
  • passive-aggression

Sometimes workers may not realize they are engaging in ‘mobbing’ behaviours because it has become a part of their workplace culture. More tips for leadership in identifying a workplace bully can be found here here.

Remember – If you are experiencing bullying at work it says more about your employer than it does about you.


‘Bystander Effect’ is a social phenomenon in which the presence of others makes it less likely that an individual will intervene in a situation where someone is being harmed.

Common thoughts that bystanders have include:

  • “I don’t know what to do or what to say.”
  • “I don’t want to cause a scene/make a fuss.”
  • “I don’t want to make things worse”.
  • “It’s not my business or my place to say something.”
  • “I don’t want to become a target myself”
  • “I don’t want my friend to be mad at me.”
  • “I’m sure someone else will step in.”

Bystanders can safely intervene in harmful situations through:

  • Direct Action – show you don’t approve of what is happening through your words and body language.
  • Distraction – interrupt what is happening to deflect attention away from the victim.
  • Delay – wait until the situation has safely passed and then check in with the victim to see if they are okay and offer meaningful support.
  • Delegation – involve others who have more influence/authority in addressing the problem when it is beyond your capacity to help.

Harrassment & Discrimination

Bullying and harassment are similar, yet different:

  • Harassment is similar to bullying because someone hurts another person through cruel, offensive and insulting behaviours.
  • Harassment is different from bullying in that it is a form of discrimination.

Discrimination is treating someone differently or poorly based on certain characteristics or differences. Bullying turns into harassment when the behaviour goes against Canada’s Human Rights Laws and focuses on treating people differently because of:

  • Age
  • Race (skin colour, facial features)
  • Ethnicity (culture, where they live, how they live, how they dress)
  • Religion (religious beliefs)
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity (if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual)
  • Family status (if they are from a single parent family, adopted family, step family, foster family, non-biological gay or lesbian parent family)
  • Marital status (if they are single, legally married, common-law spouse, widowed, or divorced)
  • Physical and mental disability (if they have a mental illness, learning disability, use a wheelchair)



Domestic Violence

Crisis Intervention / Suicide

  • Crisis Line @ 604-872-3311 
  • BC Mental Health Support Line @ 310-6789 (do not add area code)