Polls Finds Majority Of Canadians Want Bullying To Be Criminalized

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TORONTO – Two-thirds of Canadians think “bullying” should be considered a Criminal Code offence even if no physical violence is involved, according to a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released on Pink Shirt Day.

Nineteen per cent of respondents said bullying — which is not specifically defined in the poll — should only be criminal if violence is involved, while six per cent felt it shouldn’t be considered a crime in either case.

Some behaviours associated with bullying are already covered by the Criminal Code, including harassment, mischief and uttering threats, but bullying itself is not an offence. Harassment was entered into the Criminal Code in 1993, and deals largely with stalking and threatening conduct.

Pollster Mario Canseco said the poll results were unusually consistent across the country.

“A lot of people in Quebec and Ontario, in Alberta and B.C., we don’t always agree with each other, but on this issue we are definitely on-side,” Canseco said.

The online poll surveyed 1,006 Canadian adults on Feb. 14 and 15, and found women and Canadians over the age of 55 most likely to shun non-violent forms of bullying.

Men and residents between the ages 35 and 54 were least keen on criminalizing any form of bullying.

A full 90 per cent of respondents felt Canada should adopt cyber-bullying legislation similar to a proposed U.S. law that would make it illegal to “coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress” using information and communication technology.

Canseco said the poll found Canadians are more worried about bullying in elementary and secondary schools than in colleges, at home or in the workplace.

Bullying Canada says one in 10 Canadian children are bullied, and up to 25 per cent of students in Grades 4 to 6 have been the victims of bullying.