Safe and Welcoming Schools

How to get help

If student is experiencing bullying or feeling unsafe, or if there is a suspicion of sex trafficking, they should report any incident to their principal, vice-principal, or caring adult. Students should always tell their parents/guardians or caregivers and we encourage parents/guardians/caregivers to contact the school with any information they receive. We do however recognize that there are situations when a student (or parent/guardian) prefers an anonymous format. Our Anonymous Reporting Tool provides this option. 

In addition, a student can contact:


What is the difference between conflict and bullying?

#BullyingAwarenessWeek Conflict vs. Bullying. Tag with tree made up of handprints with text Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. Mental Health and Avon Maitland District School Board logo.

We define conflict as when: 

  • two or more people are having a fight, an argument or disagreement
  • there is a similar balance of power (both people are close in grade, age and ability)
  • a solution can usually be found

The Ministry of Education’s definition of bullying: 

  • there is repeated, unwanted, targeted, and aggressive behaviour
  • someone is being hurt on purpose
  • there is an imbalance of power (one is much younger or much older, for example)
Is it Bullying? poster - elementary (follow the link below for the PDF version)"Is it bullying?" secondary poster (Follow the link below for the PDF version)"Are you a bully?" poster (Follow the link below for the PDF version)

What can students do if they experience conflict? 

  1. Try to ignore it
  2. Try to resolve it
  3. Talk to an adult they trust if the conflict continues

What can students do if they experience bullying? 

  1. Tell the bully to stop
  2. Seek help from an adult they trust

How to recognize and prevent bullying

Now that you know the difference between conflict and bullying, we want you to understand various forms of bullying that exist:
Physical: hitting, shoving, stealing or damaging property
Verbal: name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist or homophobic comments
Social: excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumours about them
Electronic or Cyberbullying: spreading rumours and hurtful comments through the use of cellphones, e-mail, text messaging and through social media
Racial: treating people badly based upon their ethnic or racial background, teasing them because of their cultural background and/or making racial jokes and using racist names about them or towards them
Religious: treating people badly based upon their religious background and/or beliefs, making negative comments about them or towards them in regards to their religious beliefs, calling someone names or telling jokes based upon their religious beliefs in efforts to hurt them
THINK: Is it True? Is it fact or an opinion/feeling? Know and be clear before you speak. Is it Helpful? Does it help you, them or the situation? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Would it be better left unsaid? Is it Kind?

Help prevent bullying: THINK!

“Change starts with Me!”
When you are kind, accepting and inclusive it helps others feel valued for who they are, and that they belong. They feel safe and respected.
THINK about the impact of our words and actions
What you say can have a powerful and possibly damaging effect on others.
Accept and celebrate others’ differences
The world would be a very dull place if we were all the same! We are different, BUT all of our differences are what makes AMDSB so diverse and unique!

The Parents’ Role

Schools alone cannot stop bullying and/or change the behaviour. Although every school has the responsibility to develop a safe school environment while at school, it takes a community to help prevent and stop bullying.
Please help us by:
  • fostering and creating healthy relationships and helping children recognize healthy relationships
  • helping children develop the essential social skills to navigate peer conflicts and by minimizing opportunities for negative peer interactions
  • acting on inappropriate behaviours you see - don’t just assume that a problem will work itself out if you sense there is a serious conflict occurring
  • supporting and sharing our messaging with your child
  • finding out more: What Parents Need to Know (PREVNet)


Illustration of young person standing beside a computer screen that reads "Cyberbullying." Speech bubbles surround the screen: Attacking, indimidate, violence, discredit, harrassment, abuse, humiliate, threat, anxiety, disrespect. #BullyingAwarenessWeek. Sidebar has tag graphic with tree made up of handprints and text: Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. Mental Health and Avon Maitland District School Board

What is cyberbullying?

“Cyberbullying is when a child or teen becomes a target of actions by others – using computers, cell phones or other devices – that are intended to embarrass, humiliate, torment, threaten or harass. It can start as early as age eight or nine, but the majority of cyberbullying takes place in the teenage years, up to age 17.” (Public Safety Canada).

Tips for Preventing Cyberbullying

  • Use privacy settings. It is important to keep your content on your social media as private as possible.
  • Take a moment before sending an image of yourself. Is it an image you would want everyone to see?
  • Start the conversation about cyberbullying with your friends. Support those who have been targeted by cyberbullying and if you know cyberbullies, encourage them to stop.
  • It’s important that you don’t participate in negative comments towards someone online. Take a stand. Be the person who supports the person who is being attacked. Be the role model people need! Others may follow your kind actions.
  • Always remember to log out of your accounts on your phone or your electronic device when you are not using them.

Video: What Kids Want Parents to Know About Cyberbullying



Illustration of girl sitting on the floor with a book open beside her. Two girls pointing and laughing at her. Boy peeking around the lockers, watching, with thought bubbles: "They are being SO mean! What can I do?" #BullyingAwarenessWeek. Sidebar has tag graphic with tree made up of handprints and text: Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. Mental Health and Avon Maitland District School Board

Bystanders are people who witness an action like bullying, either in person or online. Bystanders don’t get involved when they witness bullying because they are worried they cannot help, that others won't approve and they are afraid of being the bullies’ next target.  

We want all students to be safe at AMDSB. When having these conversations with students, please remind them to step in and help only if it is safe to do so. 

Encourage your child to stop being a bystander and help stop bullying by taking these steps:

  • Tell the person who is bullying to stop
  • Speak up for the person who is being bullied 
  • Find someone who has the skills and authority to help, such as an adult
  • Let them know that they do not deserve to be treated that way and it is not their fault.

Learn more: How to help a friend who is experiencing bullying (Kids Help Phone)

How to help a friend who is experiencing bullying

Illustration of one boy pointing and laughing at another boy. Foreground is two hands holding a clipboard with list and checkboxes: "Ways I can help... Reach out. Stay safe. Stick together. Step in. Get support." #BullyingAwarenessWeek. Sidebar has tag graphic with tree made up of handprints and text: Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. Mental Health and Avon Maitland District School Board

When students find out their friend is being bullied, it is never easy. Students may feel a lot of emotions. They may be sad, angry or even scared. Remind students to be kind to themselves. They are not the whole solution to the problem. Support students. Encourage them to be supportive for their friends and to also take care of themselves. 

Here are 5 ways to help a friend who is experiencing bullying: 

  1. Reach out: Check in and see how your friend is doing. Remind them that you care about them and are there for them. 
  2. Stay Safe: Encourage your friend to make a safety plan with an adult. Their physical and emotional health is important.
  3. Stick together: Together with friends, you can help show your friend they’re not alone. 
  4. Step in: If you witness bullying you can step in and let the person who is bullying know that their behaviour is not okay. With this step it is important to ensure your own safety. If you feel that you are unsafe, go get an adult to help.
  5. Get support: Remember, you have to take care of yourself first before you can help others. Helping a friend who is being bullied is serious and can be hard on your own mental health. It is important to  take care of yourself and speak with a friend, teacher, parent or safe adult about how you are feeling.

More resources - Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying (PREVNet)

Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it (for teens) (Unicef)

How to Stay Safe on Social Media (Government of Canada)

Quiz for kids: Test your online (and offline) safety knowledge (Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc.)

More resources - Elementary

CBC Kids Small Talks Series - videos containing insight and perspective from children about a range of issues, including bullying

School Mental Health Ontario - Students

TVO Kids Bullying Awareness & Prevention - using stories to engage children

What kids need to know about bullying (PREVNet)

What is bullying? (Kids Help Phone)

More resources - Secondary

Bystander: What to do if you witness bullying (Kids Help Phone)

Black Youth Helpline

Egale - Bullying and cyberbullying prevention resources and webinars for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or Questioning), Intersex and Two-Spirit (LGBTQI2S) students, parents and allies.

School Mental Health Ontario - Student

More resources - Parents/Guardians/Caregivers

A resource for parents of LGBTQ youth experiencing bullying (

Bullying: Facts & Solutions (PREVNet)

Bullying: We can all help stop it - in multiple languages (

Cyber Safety Parent Tip Sheet - in 22 languages (Ontario Principals Council)

K-12 Cyber Awareness Month Resources (

Parent toolkit for helping their children develop healthy relationships (

School Mental Health Ontario - Parents & Caregivers

Types of Bullying (PREVNet)

What is Child Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking? (