What are Healthy Relationships?

Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, trust, support, accountability, honesty, responsibility, conflict resolution, fairness, and non-threatening behaviour.

Unhealthy Relationships

Healthy relationships give people the tools to deal with complex emotions and problems respectfully. When people aren't able to manage their emotions or solve conflicts, they are at higher risk to be involved in bullying.

Bullying can affect Albertans in their schools, communities, and online. Bullying creates fear and threatens the safety and well-being of individualism families, and society as a whole.

Alberta currently has the highest rate of bullying.

  • 50% of Alberta students have been bullied
  • 40% of youth admit to bullying someone online or in person
  • 20% of Albertans have been bullied while playing sports

Elements of bullying

For an action or behaviour to be considered bullying, these 3 elements are needed:

  • Intent: the actions happen on purpose.
  • Harm: the recipient is hurt by the action.
  • Repetition: the recipient is repeatedly targeted.

Forms of bullying

Bullying may happen in any of these 3 forms:

  • Verbal: name-calling, insults, put-downs, threats.
  • Social/Relational: exclusion, gossip, ganging-up.
  • Physical: hitting, pushing, slapping, pranking.

Participants of bullying

Four participant bystander roles in bullying:1

  • Assistant of the bully
  • Reinforcer of the bully
  • Outsider
    • Note: Outsiders who fail to intervene are viewed as bully supporters by silent intervention
  • Defender of the victim

Be a Model for Healthy Relationships

  • Encourage students to be empathetic and respectful to others.
  • Encourage students to be active by-standers - bullying thrives in silence. Standing up for victims is an important step to ending bullying.
  • Support people who are being bullied.



Genderphobia is defined as any repeated, hostile, or demeaning behaviour intended to cause fear, distress, physical or psychological harm to anyone who identifies, or is perceived to identify, as a gender minority.

Such discrimination is contrary to Alberta human rights legislation, and may be considered a hate incident by police.

Who Experiences Genderphobia?

Anyone who:

  • Is a gender minority
  • Is perceived to be a gender minority
  • Is in the process of a gender transition (changing names, pronouns, dress, etc. to align with their gender identity, including hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery)
  • Doesn't conform to conventional gender stereotypes
  • Has gender-minority family members, friends, or relatives

Forms of Genderphobia

Genderphobia may include:

  • Mean-spritied or hateful name-calling
  • Obscene and/or sexualized gestures
  • Sexualized harassment, teasing, froshing, hazing, or threats
  • Spreading rumors or gossip
  • Unwanted disclosure of someone's gender identity
  • Physical aggression like hitting, pushing, kicking, choking, or stalking
  • Isolating or excluding someone from their friends or peers
  • Using texts, emails, or social networks to intimidate, put down, gossip about, make fun of, threaten, or exclude someone

Targets of Genderphobia

People who are targets of Genderphobia may feel:

  • Alone or isolated (May withdraw from social activities)
  • Embarrassed or ashamed
  • Pressure to fit into stereotypical gender norms (e.g.: to act more masculine/feminine)
  • Depressed and uncertain about themselves or their future
  • Angry (may become the bully)
  • Unsafe

These are normal and natural feelings. But, always encourage them to reach out for help.


Unhealthy Relationships in Sports

Bullying in sport and physical activity may appear as:

  • Repeated unwarranted yelling directed at the target.
  • Continual criticizing of the target's abilities in a hurtful way.
  • Repeatedly blaming the target for mistakes.
  • Repeatedly making unreasonable demands.
  • Repeated insults or put-downs of the target.
  • Repeated threats to remove or restrict opportunities of privileges.
  • Repeatedly denying or discounting the target's accomplishments.
  • Physical violence, or threats of.
  • Insulting or threatening emails or texts.

What Players Can Do

  • Trust your instincts. If someone is making you or a team mate feel uncomfortable or threatened, don't ignore it. Speak up! Everyone has the right to be treated with respect. Talk to someone you trust - a parent, coach, friend, or another player.
  • If you are being bullied, document the actions, find advocates, and walk away.
  • Don't reply to cyber-bullying. If you are threatened, keep the message as evidence for police and service providers to help you.
  • If you witness bullying:
    • support the person being bullied.
    • don't fight the bully.
    • speak up.
    • walk away and get help.

What Teachers and Coaches Can Do

  • Recognize that you are role models to players and set a good example.
  • Establish open and honest communication between all involved, including parents, players, and volunteers.
  • Reflect on your own behaviour. Accept feedback without being defensive, and change as needed.
  • Don't view screening procedures, policies, or training as a threat to your character. View these as opportunities to learn and a create safe environment.
  • Promote healthy relationships by encouraging empathy, kindness, honesty, and respect.

School-based approaches that incorporate a whole-school approach to healthy relationships appear to be the most effective at reducing bullying.1

Adapted from:
Bullying Prevention in Sports
. Government of Alberta.
1 Hutchings, J. & Clarkson, S. Introducing and Piloting the KiVa bullying prevention programme in the UK. Educational & Child Psych. 2015; 32(1).

Alberta Bullying Helpline


(24 hours, toll-free in Alberta)


Last revised on 10 January, 2023.