Majority (59%) of Canadian Adults Have Been Bullied During Childhood and Teenage Years; Half (45%) of Canadians Bullied Cite a Lasting Harmful Effect on Them as an Adult

Three Quarters (78%) of Canadians Believe Not Enough is Being Done to Stop Bullying in Their Community While Nine in Ten (87%) Believe Providing A Mentor Could Help Reduce Bullying

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Toronto, ON – A reason why many Canadians feel so strongly against bullying is that many appear to have experienced similar situations growing up, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. Three in five (59%) Canadians cite being bullied during their childhood and teenage years, while two in five (41%) were never bullied. Of those that were bullied during their childhood and teenage years, seven in ten experienced ‘teasing designed to humiliate’ (72%) and ‘verbal abuse and taunting’ (71%). Two in five (43%) experienced ‘physical abuse such as being slapped, shoved, hit, or beaten’ while 5% have been ridiculed or humiliated on the Internet.

  • Interestingly, bullied Canadians under 25 (14%) are most likely to say they’ve been the victim of ridicule and humiliation on the Internet, compared to those under 35 (11%), middle aged (2%), aged 35-54, and seniors (3%), aged 55+.
  • Middle-aged (48%), tied with seniors, are most likely to have been physically abused, ahead of Canadians under 35 (32%), and those under 25 (31%).
  • Canadians under 25 (79%) and middle-aged Canadians (75%) are most likely to have experienced verbal abuse or taunting, followed by Canadians under 35 (72%) and Canadian seniors (66%).
  • Canadians under 35 (77%) and those who are middle-aged (75%) are most likely to have experienced teasing designed to humiliate, ahead of those under 25 (71%) and seniors (64%).

Two in five (42%) bullied Canadians believe that looking back on their own experience, ‘they would have benefitted from having a volunteer adult mentor, as part of a recognized community support program, who provided friendship and guidance to help build their self-esteem and confidence’. Three in ten (27%) don’t believe they would have benefitted from such guidance, while another three in ten (31%) don’t know if they would have had any benefit from such a program.

Half (45%) of those bullied in their childhood and teenage years believe that the bullying they suffered has had a ‘harmful’ (9% very/35% somewhat) lasting effect on them as an adult, while the remaining half (55%) believe that the lasting effect of the bullying has been ‘not harmful’ (19% not at all/36% not very). Those who’ve cited a lasting harm cite suffering a ‘lack of confidence’ (69%), ‘low self-esteem’ (53%), ‘depression’ (29%), ‘anger management issues’ (23%), and ‘poor academic achievement’ (20%).

Methods of Prevention

With the impacts of bullying becoming more prevalent as the issue is made public, Canadians believe communities are still not doing enough to prevent this kind of abuse. Four in five (78%) Canadians ‘agree’ (37% strongly/41% somewhat) that ‘not enough is being done to stop bullying in my community’. Just one in five (21%) ‘disagree’ (2% strongly/19% somewhat) that their community is doing enough to stop bullying.

Most Canadians believe that providing a positive influence for bullies can also be an effective. Nine in ten (87%) ‘agree’ (30% strongly/57% somewhat) that ‘providing children and teens who bully others with an adult mentor to provide a positive influence in their lives is an effective way to reduce bullying’, while one in ten (13%) ‘disagree’ (3% strongly/11% somewhat). Canadians are nearly unanimous (95%) in their ‘agreement’ (79% strongly/16% somewhat) that ‘freedom from bullying is the right of every child and teenager’, with only 5% ‘disagreeing’ (1% strongly/3% somewhat).

Many Canadians believe stronger laws would help curb bullying and the lasting effects it causes. Another four in five (79%) ‘agree’ (38% strongly/40% somewhat) that ‘stricter laws and legislation are effective ways to address bullying’, while just one in five (21%) ‘disagree’ (4% strongly/18% somewhat) with this statement. Another potential way to prevent abuse is by pressuring those committing the acts. Four in five (83%) ‘agree’ (35% strongly/48% somewhat) that ‘peer pressure on bullies is a powerful way to prevent abuse’, while less than one in five (17%) ‘disagree’ (3% strongly/14% somewhat).

Intervention Effectiveness

Three in ten (29%) Canadians believe that interventions to reduce bullying in their community is ‘effective’ (1% very/28% somewhat), while a similar proportion (30%) believe these interventions to be ‘not effective (5% not at all/25% not very). Two in five (41%) are not familiar with community anti-bullying programs.

Of a list of potential interventions aimed at preventing or reducing bullying, ‘peer pressure by those who witness or hear about acts of bullying’ (92%) is seen by Canadians as being most ‘effective’ (49% very/43% somewhat) for preventing or reducing bullying, while one in ten (8%) believe this would be ‘not very effective’. Nine in ten (90%) believe ‘counselling and direct intervention by teachers, administrators, or school-based conflict resolution experts’ or ‘intervention by parents either to protect their child or to stop their child from abusing others’ would be ‘effective’ interventions for preventing or reducing bullying, while one in ten (10%) believe these would be ‘not effective’. The following table outlines the perceived effectiveness of a different intervention techniques aimed at preventing or reducing bullying:

(Click to enlarge image)

When it comes to different groups responsible for the prevention of bullying, Canadians believe the onus is equally spread among different groups. Three-quarters (74%) believe parents are ‘very responsible’ for the prevention of bullying, while one in five (22%) think parents are ‘somewhat responsible’, and 4% cite parents as being ‘not responsible’ (1% not at all/3% not very). Majority (55%) believe teachers and administrators are ‘very responsible’, while two in five (39%) think this group is ‘somewhat responsible, and 6% think they’re ‘not responsible’ (1% not at all/6% not very). A similar proportion (54% ‘very’/40% ‘somewhat’) believe peers are ‘responsible’ for the prevention of bullying. Seven in ten (72%) believe government through legislation ‘responsible’ (29% very/42% somewhat), while three in ten (28%) believe government is ‘not responsible’ (6% not at all/22% not very).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between December 10th to 17th, 2012, on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,008 Canadians from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadians been surveyed. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Associate Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, please visit

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011.

Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Majority (59%) of Canadian Adults Have Been Bullied During Childhood and Teenage Years; Half (45%) of Canadians Bullied Cite a Lasting Harmful Effect on Them as an Adult


Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs