Hockey New Brunswick is putting up anti-bullying signs at about 80 rinks across the province, hoping to create a more respectful attitude in the stands.
The provincial organization says there are a few heckling incidents reported every year around New Brunswick.
Hockey New Brunswick says it created the signs to help put things into perspective for parents. The signs target spectators who jeer referees from the bleachers.
"We need people like you to attend the clinics, study the rule book, strap on the skates and wear the jersey because that’s the commitment we need. If you only want to yell from the bench or behind the glass, then you’re just a bully," the sign says.
"Bullying: do you think it’s just kids doing it? Think again."
Greg Shepard, a Fredericton hockey coach, said he believes these signs will make a difference.
"It definitely makes people aware of it and hopefully it makes people think before they speak," he said.
Parents and other family members watching hockey games at Fredericton’s Grant-Harvey Centre on Saturday said they’ve witnessed harassing comments from spectators in the past.
Alan Buckle watches his nephew's game every weekend.
He said the Hockey New Brunswick signs don't go far enough.
"I think what they need to do is have some discipline in the rink. If parents are obnoxious, kick them out," Buckle said.
Hockey Canada has a zero-tolerance policy regarding verbal abuse of on-ice officials.
According to Hockey New Brunswick's rules, a parent can be banned from the arena if they are being disruptive.
But before it gets to that point, the signs are meant to manage the tensions in the stands.
In 2009, Hockey New Brunswick estimated that 400 young officials quit each year because of the abuse they receive from coaches, parents and spectators.
In 2012, a 13-year-old referee in Quispamsis ejected a hockey mother and a peewee coach after they verbally abused the on-ice official.