Our most recent blog discussed the importance of a global approach to counter bullying in sports. However, we must not rely on this approach alone, since the approach must be positive as well. This means that we cannot just limit ourselves to interventions of a coercive nature the way zero-tolerance programs do.

In this respect, Beaulieu (2011) shows how these programs, founded on an inflexible punitive policy that uses severe sanctions for any type of inadequate behaviour, even minor, have seriously failed in their disciplinary targets. If you would like to learn more about this theme, read the article by Beaulieu (2011) in our mediagraphy section.

That said, we do not opt for the “leave it alone” approach, which would be even worse. Like Éric Debarbieux states: “Anything, except admit that a child is being slaughtered by another child.” (Debarbieux, 2012). The problem with coercion is that bullies do not learn to change their behaviour. Therefore, it is delusional to believe that the problem is solved since it is just put off. It is also important to keep in mind that these children also need help, since some of them will suffer serious consequences throughout their life because of their behaviour (see the blog “Understanding bullying, part 2”).

Educate and change behaviours

Guided by this underestimated reality, our new programTake action! Counter bullying in sports comes with aHelp toolBased on the best teaching methods (Beaumont & al., 2017; Pepler & al., 2014), this tool ensures an intervention by the coach when a case of bullying arises and orients the coach so that their approach is educational and targets a change in behaviour for the bully.

Therefore, the Help tool allows for an intervention while preventing a relapse of bullying. However, in keeping with the old adage that says “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” research confirms that we have to go even further in prevention to efficiently counter bullying. Failing this, we are contented with acting in curative mode, as if we settled on saying that: “we do not have to be physically active since doctors will watch over our health.”

In short, with bullying, like any other problem, we have to take a proactive approach in order to first prevent negative behaviours from appearing. This is the key to an effective policy to counter bullying. This is corroborated by Égide Royer for whom “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken adults.”

To do this, children need to evolve in an environment marked by a positive climate focused on well-being. (Beaumont, 2014; Poulin & al., 2015; Steffgen & al., 2013). This climate will further favour the learning of socio-emotional skills which will act as the first barrier against bullying (Boissonneault & al., 2018; Durlak & al., 2011; Espelage & al., 2015).

To learn more about these socio-emotional skills, make sure to read our next blog.

Alexandre Baril

Project manager – Take Action! Stand up against byllying in  sports



Beaulieu, A. (2011). La tolérance zéro, une illusion. Vie pédagogique. (156), 18-20. Detected at http://collections.banq.qc.ca/ark:/52327/bs2018122 .

Beaumont, C. (2014). Revoir notre approche en prévention de la violence et de l’intimidation : des interventions soutenues par la recherche ; Mémoire présenté au secrétariat du forum sur l’intimidation, Ministère de la famille. Québec, QC : Research chair «la sécurité et la violence en milieu éducatif».

Beaumont, C. et Paquet. (2017). La méthode A.I.D.E.R. Research chair «la sécurité et la violence en milieu éducatif».

Boissonneault, J. et Beaumont, C. (2019). Fascicules contre l’intimidation. Detected at https://cqjdc.org/documents.html .

Debarbieux, É. (2012). Améliorer le climat scolaire : pourquoi et comment ? [Video online]. Detected at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe26RDztvwo .

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development82(1), 405-432

Espelage, D. L., Low, S., Van Ryzin, M. J., & Polanin, J. R. (2015). Clinical trial of second step middle school program: Impact on bullying, cyberbullying, homophobic teasing, and sexual harassment perpetration. School Psychology Review44(4), 464-479.

Pepler, D. et Craig, W. (2014). Prévention de l’intimidation et intervention en milieu scolaire: Fiche d’information et outils. Detected at https://www.prevnet.ca/sites/prevnet.ca/files/prevention_de_lintimidation_fiches_outils_2014_fr.pdf .

Poulin, R., Beaumont, C., Blaya, C., & Frenette, E. (2015). Le climat scolaire : un point central pour expliquer la victimisation et la réussite scolaire. Canadian Journal of Education38(1), 1. Detected at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Catherine_Blaya/publication/280216417_Le_climat_scolaire_un_point_central_pour_expliquer_la_victimisation_et_la_reussite_scolaire/links/570ff91808ae74cb7d9efe91/Le-climat-scolaire-un-point-central-pour-expliquer-la-victimisation-et-la-reussite-scolaire.pdf .

Steffgen, G., Recchia, S., & Viechtbauer, W. (2013). The link between school climate and violence in school: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and violent behavior18(2), 300-309.

«[…] with bullying, like any other problem, we have to take a proactive approach in order to first prevent negative behaviours from appearing.»