Half of Canadians report being bullied as youth

Half of Canadian adults polled say they were bullied as children or teenagers — and 62 per cent of those bullied say having an adult mentor would have helped them cope.

A third say impacts of bullying are lasting, new poll finds

One of the most well-known bullying cases recently in Canada involved Mitchell Wilson, 11, of Pickering, Ont., who killed himself in 2011 after being attacked and bullied by other youths. (Wilson family)

Half of Canadian adults polled say they were bullied as children or teenagers, according to a new poll released by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada on Wednesday. 

The Harris-Decima survey conducted for the organization found 85 per cent of respondents believe that providing youngsters who bully others with a volunteer mentor is an effective way to reduce bullying.

The phone survey of more than 1,000 Canadians also explored the value of mentoring as a means to prevent abusive behaviours and assist those who are bullied to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem.

Among those who were bullied, 62 per cent believe they would have benefited from having a volunteer adult mentor to help them cope. And 87 per cent of adults polled agree that action to reduce bullying strengthens communities over time.

The poll also found 89 per cent of respondents believe bullying poses a serious threat to the long-term well-being of children and teens. Nearly a third of those polled say they think the abuse they suffered had a lasting harmful effect.

5 readers share tales of being bullied as kids

Read their stories.

The  phone survey had a sample of 1,034 adults and was conducted between Jan. 5 and Jan. 9. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.   

The survey findings unveiled Wednesday coincide with the release of a report on the mental health of Canadian teens commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which contained a chapter that also delved into the subject of bullying.

The study of 26,000 Canadians aged 11 to 15 found that higher proportions of young people reported being victims of violence in the form of bullying: 22 per cent in 2010 compared to 20 per cent in a 2002 survey.

However, the Queen's University-led report also said the prevalence of young people who report they bully others appears to have declined -- from 15 per cent in 2002 to 12 per cent in 2010.

The study also found that the prevalence of fighting has decreased since the 2006 cycle of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey.