No one likes being bullied but fear of retaliation leaves many young people suffering in silence and leaves them feeling hurt and demoralized.
A website started by a teacher at Summerland Secondary School is providing a safe and easy way to report the many forms of bullying experienced by young people today.
Trevor Knowlton is the president and founder of www.stopabully.ca which he created following an anonymous e-mail he received at the school on May 7, 2009.
"It was a student trying to report bullying that was going on in the school," said Knowlton. "That student had to go to a huge amount of effort just to give us a heads up about a video that was going around Facebook that evening amongst all the students."
He got the website operating four days later. Since then, he's witnessed its rapid growth.
Anyone can visit the site and report a bullying incident that is forwarded to their school's principal.
The convenience means a student doesn't have to report an incident to a school administrator in person.
"One of the biggest problems we see is, the student's know what's going on in terms of bullying but there's an information gap between what the students know and what the school knows," said Knowlton.
Regardless of whether its name-calling, pushing/shoving or cyber-bullying, a teacher or principal also needs to be aware of what's happening around a student.
Of the types being reported among the top five types of bullying are name calling/insults, followed by shoving/hitting, threats/intimidation, spreading rumours and cyber bullying which excludes cell phone texting which is farther down the list.
A total of 41 per cent of those using the website to report an incident are doing so for the first time-results which indicate the anti-bullying initiative is having a positive effect on the well-being of young people who can submit their report anonymously if they choose.
Students can also report incidents where they've witnessed bullying to provide a "heads up" to school staff.
Overall, 61 per cent of bullying reports point to males but when looking at statistics for cyber bullying 68 per cent of reports are made against females.
Knowlton said it's difficult to pinpoint reasons for the difference.
He said one of the best examples of how effective the website has been at stopping cyber-bullying dead in its tracks stems from one report where a student created a site aimed at harassing their peers.
Students started reporting the website to the school's principal, who in turn contacted whoever was responsible when it came online on a Friday. By the following night the site had been shut down.
"Students can put stuff online but they don't see the consequences of their actions," said Knowlton who added the aforementioned example demonstrates how quickly these types of public attacks can be prevented before they gain any momentum and before something more serious develops from either the bully or the victim.
Sometimes posting an embarrassing photo to a social media site can case a tremendous amount of mental stress on whoever is in the picture even if that wasn't the intent.
"We've had a number of issues where I see cell phone photos and video are taken and almost instantly put on Facebook," he said. "A lot of them we would consider private photos but they're becoming very public . . . There's been some major consequences to those types of photos."
Its growth has spread to school and parents across the country and gained the attention of the federal government. Recently, Knowlton and Hal Roberts, vice-president of Stop a Bully's board of directors, were in Ottawa presenting details of the program to a Senate Committee for Human Rights.
Now that it has the awareness and support from Canadian senators, Stop a Bully is hoping to break new stride in its day-to-day operations which Knowlton said has become a very busy endeavour.
He said receiving the anonymous e-mail has had a profound effect on his life.
"It's pretty amazing," Knowlton said. "At the time (2009) I was floored that there was no other service and that's why it's getting so much attention."
Types of bullying being reported, according to Stop a Bully school reports from Sept. - April 2011:
â€¢Â Note that multiple types can be selected
Name calling/insults, 80 per cent
Shoving/hitting, 39 per cent
Threats/intimidation, 38 per cent
Spreading rumours, 29 per cent
Cyber bullying, 27 per cent
Involving friends/peers, 24 per cent
Homophobic comments, 20 per cent
Fighting, 16 per cent
Sexual comments, 16 per cent
Exclusion/leaving out, 14 per cent
Cell phone messages, 13 per cent
Racist comments, 11 per cent
Damaging property, nine per cent
Stealing, six per cent
Weapon related, four per cent