School bullying

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This article primarily concerns student-related bullying at school. For teacher-related bullying at school, see Bullying in teaching.
Bullying, one form of which is depicted in this staged photograph, is detrimental to students’ well-being and development.[1]

School bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in an educational setting. Bullying can be physical, sexual, verbal or emotional in nature.


A bully case can only be a bully case when there are two people. The bully and the victim.There is no universal definition of school bullying, however, it is widely agreed upon that bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three minimum criteria:[2] (1) hostile intent (i.e., the harm caused by bullying is deliberate, not accidental),[3] (2) imbalance of power (i.e., bullying includes a real or perceived power inequity between the bully and the victim),[4] and (3) repetition over a period of time (i.e., more than once with the potential to occur multiple times).[3]

The following two additional criteria have been proposed to complement the above-mentioned minimum criteria: (4) victimization distress (victim suffer mild to severe psychological, social or physical trauma)[3] and (5) provocation (bullying is a part of progressive aggression motivated by perceived benefits of their aggressive behaviors).[3]

Some of these characteristics have been disputed (e.g. power imbalance: bullies and victims often report that conflicts occur between two equals), but nevertheless remain widely established in the scientific literature.[2]


The long-term effects of school bullying are numerous, including but not limited to sensitivity, anxiety and depression.[5] Recent statistics suggest that the majority of students will experience bullying at some point in their academic careers. Starting in the early 21st century, increasing attention has been given to ensure teachers and parents understand and recognize the signs of bullying, (in both the bully and the victim), and are equipped with strategies and tools to address the problem. School bullying may cause a significant drop in victims' grades[6] and may lead them to develop suicidal thoughts.[7]


Bullying is a common occurrence in most schools. According to the American Psychological Association, "40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers."[8] Regardless of grade level, socioeconomic environment, gender, religion or sexual orientation, bullying can happen to anyone. However, various studies show that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds experience bullying more often than other students.[9] The following statistics help to illustrate the severity of bullying within classrooms:[8]


  • In a 1997 study of Seattle high school students at 5 high schools in which they recorded their peers' hallway and classroom conversations. It was discovered that the average high school student hears about 25 anti-gay remarks a day [10]
  • In a study conducted across 32 Dutch elementary schools, 16.2% of 2766 participating children reported being bullied regularly (several times a month or more)[11]
  • At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied [12]
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child who is a victim of bullying [12]
  • The rate of discrimination experienced among non-heterosexual students is three times as high as that of their heterosexual peers[12]
  • In a Canadian study that surveyed 2,186 students across 33 middle and high schools, 49.5% reported being bullied online in the previous 3 months. 33.7% of the sample reported being the perpetrator of cyber bullying[13]
  • The most common form of cyber bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive emails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims[12]
  • Statistics referencing the prevalence of bullying in schools may be inaccurate and tend to fluctuate. In a U.S. study of 5,621 students aged 12–18, 64% of the students had experienced bullying and did not report it[14]
  • In the United States, a 2013 nationwide survey indicated that 20% of high school students were bullied on school property in the past year, 15% of the students were bullied electronically and 8% of students ages 12–18 reported ongoing bullying on a weekly basis[15]
  • Students who also fall into the gay, bisexual, lesbian or trans-gendered identity groups report being five times as likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation [16]

A national study of middle and high school students shows that LGBT students (61.1%) were more likely than their non-LGBT peers to feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of their sexual orientation. According to data from CDC’s YRBS, the percentage of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students (across sites) who did not go to school at least one day during the 30 days before the survey because of safety concerns ranged from 11% to 30% of gay and lesbian students and 12% to 25% of bisexual students.[17]


Proactive aggression is a concept for children to a bully among other children, each individual has a role to defend.If a children is labeled as aggressive it might be difficult to change their behavior. There are children that act proactively but only show aggression to defend themselves if they are provoked,then we have children who react aggressively if they are provoked but they tend to never be the ones to attack first

  • Developmental research suggests bullies are often morally disengaged and use egocentric reasoning strategies[18]
  • Adolescents who experience violence or aggression in the home, or are influenced by negative peer relationships, are more likely to bully. This suggests that positive social relationships reduce the likelihood of bullying[19]
  • The diagnosis of a mental health disorder is strongly associated with being a bully. This trend is most evident in adolescents diagnosed with depression, anxiety or ADHD[20]
  • Poor theory of mind is associated with bullying among children[21]
  • 25% of students encourage bullying if not given proper education and information about the implications of bullying[22]

In a survey by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), students were asked to complete a questionnaire.

"A total of 10.6% of the children replied that they had sometimes bullied other children, a response category defined as moderate bullying. An additional 8.8% said they had bullied others once a week or more, defined as frequent bullying. Similarly, 8.5% said they had been targets of moderate bullying, and 8.4% said they were bullied frequently.
"Out of all the students, 13% said they had engaged in moderate or frequent bullying of others, while 10.6% said they had been bullied either moderately or frequently. Some students — 6.3% — had both bullied others and been bullied themselves. In all, 29% of the students who responded to the survey had been involved in some aspect of bullying, either as a bully, as the target of bullying or both."[23]

According to Tara Kuther, Associate Professor of Psychology at Western Connecticut State University, "...bullying gets so much more sophisticated and subtle in high school. It's more relational. It becomes more difficult for teens to know when to intervene; whereas with younger kids, bullying is more physical and, therefore, more clear-cut."[22]

Because of the low numbers of students who actually report incidents of bullying, thwarting the problem requires teachers to have a certain level of awareness, beginning with understanding bullying. An additional study by Lisa Garby shows that 60% of bullies in middle school will have at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.[24]

Types of bullying

There are four basic types of bullying: verbal, physical, psychological, and cyber. Cyber-bullying is becoming one of the most common types of bullying. While victims can experience bullying at any age, it is witnessed most often in school-aged children. With proper knowledge, preventative measures against bullying can be taken.

Direct bullying is a relatively open attack on a victim that is physical and/or verbal in nature.[25] Indirect bullying is more subtle and harder to detect, but involves one or more forms of relational aggression, including social isolation, intentional exclusion, rumor-spreading, defamation of character or one's reputation, making faces or obscene gestures behind someone's back and manipulating friendships or other relationships.[25]

Physical bullying

A female bully, portrayed in the 1917 silent film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Physical bullying is any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim. This is one of the most easily identifiable forms of bullying. Examples include:[26][27]

  • punching
  • pushing
  • shoving
  • kicking
  • hazing
  • inappropriate touching
  • tickling
  • headlocks
  • pinching
  • school pranks
  • teasing
  • fighting
  • use of available objects as weapons
  • threatening
  • Pulling of the hair


Emotional bullying is any form of bullying that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being. Examples include:[26][27]

  • spreading malicious rumors about people
  • keeping certain people out of a "group"
  • getting certain people to "gang up" on others (could also be considered physical bullying)
  • making fun of certain people
  • ignoring people on purpose – silent treatment or 'Sending to Coventry'
  • harassment
  • provocation
  • pretending the victim is non-existent
  • saying hurtful sentences (also a form of verbal bullying)
  • belittling [28]


Verbal bullying is any slanderous statements or accusations that cause the victim undue emotional distress. Examples include:[27]

  • directing foul language (profanity) at the target
  • using derogatory terms or deriding the person's name
  • commenting negatively on someone's looks, clothes, body etc. – personal abuse
  • tormenting
  • harassment
  • mocking
  • teasing
  • belittling [28]


According to the website Stop Cyberbullying, "Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones."[29] This form of bullying can easily go undetected because of lack of parental/authoritative supervision. Because bullies can pose as someone else, it is the most anonymous form of bullying. Cyberbullying includes, but is not limited to, abuse using email, blogs, instant messaging, text messaging or via websites. Many who are bullied in school are likely to be bullied over the Internet and vice versa.[27]

Prevention of cyberbullying

According to the website Stop Cyberbullying, "When schools try and get involved by disciplining the student for cyberbullying actions that took place off campus and outside of school hours, they are often sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student's free speech right." [30]

There are several different forms of bullying. A few being emotional, physical, verbal, and cyber bullying. These forms of bullying can leave physical and emotional scars that the victim has to live with every day. Bullying in schools could cause adolescent depression and suicide. Suicide in the third leading cause of adolescent deaths in the United States. Since bullying has become a popular issue in the world there has been different prevention techniques that schools have tried to enforce; however, many of these techniques have failed to prevent bullying. If schools focus on preventing bullying by enforcing stricter policies, creating a secure environment, and including material about bullying into the curriculum to encourage students to accept diversity there could be a better success rate for bullying prevention techniques.

Cyberbullying has become extremely prevalent in today's society. Since 95% of teens who use social media reported having witnessed malicious behavior on social media from 2009 to 2013,[31] the odds for rash behavior by a victim are very high. This calls for preventive measures. As sites like Facebook or Twitter offer no routine monitoring, children from a young age must learn proper internet behavior, say Abraham Foxman and Cyndi Silverman. "This is a call for parents and educators to teach these modern skills...through awareness and advocacy."[32] "Parents and educators need to make children aware at a young age of the life-changing effects cyberbullying can have on the victim. The next step for prevention is advocacy. For example, three high school students from Melville, New York organized a Bullying Awareness Walk, where several hundred people turned out to show their support."[33]

Clara Wajngurt writes, "Other than organizing events, calling for social media sites to take charge could make the difference between life and death. Cyberbullying is making it increasingly difficult to enforce any form of prevention."[34] Joanna Wojcik concludes: "The rapid growth of social media is aiding the spread of cyberbullying, and prevention policies are struggling to keep up. In order for prevention policies to be put in place, the definition of cyberbullying must be stated, others must be educated on how to recognize and prevent bullying, and policies that have already attempted to be enacted need to be reviewed and learned from."[35] "Most importantly, clear and concise legislation must be created on the state and federal level to aid in worldwide prevention."[36]

Need for Public Involvement in Teenage Cyberbullying

Within recent years the public has begun to accept and expect cyberbullying among teenagers.[37] With having over 95% of today’s youth connected to the internet, cyberbullying has become a part of daily life.[37] Though laws have been put into action to discourage further cyberbullying, this is not the only action that needs to be taken. Using education, monitoring and enforcement, schools and adults are the best weapon against teenage cyberbullying.[38] Research has found that teenage cyber bullies tend to have high levels of aggression and often are uninterested in their academics.[39][40] Using the information learned from researchers, teachers and other adults can attempt to recognize possible bullies and their victims. Researcher Charisse Nixon found that students do not reach out for help with cyberbullying for four main reasons: they do not feel connected to the adults around them; the students do not see the cyberbullying as a real issue that is worth bringing forward; they do not feel the surrounding adults have the ability to properly deal with the cyberbullying; the teenagers have increased feelings of shame and humiliation regarding the cyberbullying.[37] Nixon also found that the actions by surrounding people resulted in positive outcomes most frequently. When bystanders took action in helping end the cyberbullying in adolescents, the results were more positive than when the adolescents attempted to solve it without outside help.[37]


Canadian Legislation [41]

United States Legislation Cyberstalking legislation.

There are four main offenses with which a cyberstalker could charged:

  • Threats of death or serious bodily harm (this can be done face-to-face, on the phone, whether talking or text messaging)
  • Criminal harassment (repeated tormenting online, on the phone or text messaging causing the victim to fear for their life)
  • Distribution of intimate images without consent ("revenge porn" sharing naked or sexual pictures of another person without consent)
  • Assault (physical or verbal assault)

Protecting Yourself from Cyber Stalking

  • Never give out information such as your birthday, full name, phone number, Social Security Number or address
  • Consider joining a closed network rather than an open one. Find out if others can see your profile without your consent and adjust your privacy settings accordingly
  • Choose the most restrictive security settings available (logins, passwords, etc.)
  • Don’t use third party applications unless you can be sure that you can opt out
  • Don’t expect total privacy. Read the privacy statement and policies to learn how much control the site will give you. Some sites allow all registered users to view all the information you post on your site with no exceptions
  • Most sites are subject to search warrants and other forms of legal compulsion and will make personal information available to authorities if required by law to do so[42]

Sexual bullying

Sexual bullying is "any bullying behavior, whether physical or non-physical, that is based on a person’s sexuality or gender. It is when sexuality or gender is used as a weapon by boys or girls towards other boys or girls—although it is more commonly directed at girls. It can be carried out to a person’s face, behind their back or through the use of technology."[43]

As part of its research into sexual bullying in schools, the BBC Panorama program commissioned a questionnaire aimed at young people aged 11 to 19 in schools and youth clubs across five regions of England.[44] The survey revealed that of the 273 respondents, 28 had been forced to do something sexual, and 31 had seen it happen to someone else. Of the 273 respondents, 40 had experienced unwanted touching.[45] U.K. government figures show that in school year 2007-8, there were 3,450 fixed-period exclusions and 120 expulsions from schools in England due to sexual misconduct.[46] This includes incidents such as groping and using sexually insulting language. From April 2008 to March 2009, ChildLine counseled a total of 156,729 children, 26,134 of whom spoke about bullying as a main concern and 300 of whom spoke specifically about sexual bullying.[43]

The U.K. charity, Beatbullying, has claimed that as gang culture enters inner-city schools, children are being bullied into providing ‘sexual favors’ in exchange for protection.[47] However, other anti-bullying groups and teachers' unions, including the National Union of Teachers, challenged the charity to provide evidence of this, as they had no evidence that this sort of behavior was happening in schools.[47]

Sexting cases are also on the rise and is becoming a major source of bullying. The circulation of explicit photos of those involved either around school or the internet put the originators in a position to be scorned and bullied.[48] There have been reports of some cases in which the bullying has been so extensive that the victim has taken their life.[49]

Pack bullying

Pack bullying is bullying undertaken by a group. The 2009 Wesley Report on bullying prepared by an Australia-based group, found that pack bullying was more prominent in high schools and characteristically lasted longer than bullying undertaken by individuals. Pack bullying may be physical bullying or emotional bullying and may be perpetrated in person or in cyberspace. It can take place in schoolyards, school hallways, sports fields and gymnasiums, classrooms and on the school bus.[50]

Bystanders to Bullying

According to Department of Education and Training of Western Australia, bullying also involves the concept of "bystanders". A bystander may be someone who sees bullying or knows about it, but he or she is not usually directly involved. Everyone at the school can have a role in supporting those who are being bullied. All members of the whole school community need to be aware of their role in supporting those who are being bullied and their responsibility to discourage bullying behaviours when they observe them. Any member of the school community can be a bystander and can act successfully to prevent or stop bullying. Bystanders are encouraged to report to someone who can help, such as a member of the school staff.[51][52]

Cases in Canada

(Amanda Todd)

After being manipulated into exposing her topless body to an anonymous person online, Todd encountered challenges when her picture spread around the internet only to haunt her by tormentors online and at school. In response to the bullying, Todd posted a video of herself on YouTube taking about her experience with cyber-bullying and how it had affected her; mentally and physically. After uploading her video, Todd came to the decision that taking her life was the only way to stop the bullying.[53]

Power imbalance

Bullying is usually associated with an imbalance of power. A bully has a perceived authority over another due to factors such as size, gender, or age.[54] Bullies are not identifiable by their appearance or group identification; rather we need to focus on how they act. The definition of bullying briefly describes actions that are exhibited by an individual that is playing the role of a bully.[55] Boys find motivation for bullying from factors such as not fitting in, physical weakness, short temper, who their friends are, and the clothes they wear. Bullying among girls, on the other hand, results from factors such as not fitting in, facial appearance, emotional factors, being overweight, and academic status.[56] In both sexes, a speech impediment of some sort (such as stutter) can also become the target of a bully.

Individuals that choose to be a bully are not typically born with the characteristic. It is a result from the treatment they receive from authority figures, including parents. Bullies often come from families that use physical forms of discipline.[57] This somewhat turns the tables on the bully, making them the victim. Unfortunately, this leads to a strategy of bully or be bullied.[55]

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Girls and boys are both bullies. Girls are more likely social bullies, spreading rumors, breaking up friendships, etc. Boys are more physical bullies, hitting, punching, and slapping.[58] Bullies are typically overly concerned about their appearance and the popularity standings. They have an urge to dominate, or to be in charge of others. Bullies are usually easily pressured by their peers and feel the need to impress them.[59] There are several different types of bullies; confident, social, fully armored, hyperactive, bullied bully, bunch of bullies, and a gang of bullies. The confident bully has a very high opinion of him/herself and feels a sense of superiority over other students. The social bully uses rumors, gossip, and verbal taunts to insult others. Social bullies are typically female, possess low self-esteem and therefore try to bring others down. The fully armored bully shows very little emotion and often bullies when no one will see or stop them. The hyperactive bully typically has problems with academics and social skills. This student will often bully someone then place the blame on someone else. A bullied bully is usually someone who has been bullied in the past or is bullied by an older sibling. A bunch of bullies is a group of friends who gang up on others. A gang of bullies is a group of students who are not really friends but are drawn together due to their desire for power.[60] Print Students become bullies for many reasons such as they want to impress their peers, they were once bullied themselves and now feel big bullying others, and some even do it as retaliation for being punished in school.[58]

Bullying venues

Bullying occurs in and away from schools; however, the majority of bullying takes place in educational institutions. Bullying locations vary by context. For example, the playground is the most dangerous area on the elementary level, followed by the outdoor recess area, hallways, indoor recess, and classrooms. In middle school, hallways were the most perilous location, followed by the lunchroom, outdoor recess areas, classrooms, indoor recess, and the front of the school. According to the U.S Department of education's national center for education statistics, more than 47% of kids reported getting bullied in hallways and stairway.[61] The reason students are mostly bullied in hallways and stairways is because that is where students spend the most time and is where they are lest supervised. The bus stop or the bus ride to and from school is also a very hostile environment when it comes to kids that are bullied because it is one of the places with the least supervision. It is very hard for a single adult to be held responsible for so many kids. Kids tend to view bus drivers as just that drivers, they hold no authority when it comes to discipline.[62]

The common denominator in almost all of these locations is inadequate or no supervision and unstructured time. Under these conditions, opportunistic children have free rein. For example, recess, playgrounds and hallways head the list of trouble spots because there are few adults supervising large numbers of children who are constantly moving around wide expanses with few or no organized activities.[63]

Warning signs of bullying

There are warning signs for everyone involved in bullying. Whether your child is being bullied, doing the bullying, or witnessing it, there are signs to look for. Parents should always keep the lines of communication open by starting conversations about daily life and feelings with questions like: What was one good thing that happened today? What is your lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? Keep the questions open-ended so your child can describe his or her day. Listen for clues as they talk and follow up with further questions if you suspect something is happening to your child. First, you need to help your child understand what bullying is. Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. Kids need to know what steps to take if they have been bullied or have seen someone else get bullied. You should encourage your child to always report bullying. Let them know that bullying is not acceptable for any reason, and they should report it immediately.[64][65]

Signs that a child is being bullied include:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Conditions such as Anxiety and Post-traumatic stress manifesting in the child's behaviour
  • Lost or destroyed clothing
  • Change in eating habits
  • Declining grades
  • Continuous school absences
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Becoming over-apologetic

Signs that a child is bullying others include:

  • Getting into physical or verbal fights
  • Getting sent to the principal’s office frequently
  • Having friends who bully others
  • Becoming increasingly aggressive in normal day activities

Signs that a child has witnessed bullying include:

  • Poor school behavior
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal tendencies

Roles in school bullying

Cartoon representation of a bully and a victim used to depict Western European powers and the United States "bullying" Serbia in the aftermath of the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence during the 2008 Serbian protests

There are some roles in bullying that take place. "McNamee and Mercurio" have identified the people involved in bullying as: the person doing the bullying, the person getting bullied and the bystander as the "bullying triangle".[66]

  • Bully – Students with power (social and/or physical) who repeatedly picks on another student or group of students with the intent to inflict harm or discomfort.
  • Victim – Students who are the target of the bullying.
  • Bystander – Student who observes bullying – may ignore bullying, encourage bullying, or take a stand against bullying.[64]

Even if they are not directly involved in the bullying they play a role. There are several roles witnesses play in bullying.

These roles include:

  • Assists– These help in the bullying but do not directly start it. They are encouraged further bullying from surrounding peers. They may feel that their social status will be destroyed if they are not involved
  • Reinforcers – These only play a minor role in the bullying. For example, they may laugh at the bully's insults.
  • Outsiders – These are incidental bystanders they are not involved at all in the bullying but witness it. For example, they may have sympathy for the victim but maybe unsure how to help.
  • Defendants – These directly involved or defend the victim or there to console the victim after the bullying.[64]

An interesting result from previous research states that the majority of children possess anti-bullying attitudes. However, there is a small amount of children that admire those that bully and show little empathy for those that get bullied.[67]

Short-term and long-term effects

Dombeck defines some common short-term and long-term effects of bullying. These include, but are not limited to:[68]

Short-term (Victim):

Short-term (Bystander):

"Witnessing bullying incidents can produce feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and sadness in observers. Bystanders who witness repeated victimization of peers can experience negative effects similar to the victimized children themselves." [25]

Long-term (Victim):

Long-term (Bully):

"Pure bullies did not show problems with emotional functioning as adults. But they did show increased risk of developing antisocial personality disorder. People with this disorder have little empathy and few scruples about manipulating others for their own gain. The disorder is linked with a greater risk of becoming a criminal or committing domestic violence against their own spouses and children. Most bullies did not go on to have the disorder, Copeland said, but they were more likely to develop it than other groups." [69]

Complex cultural dynamics

Parsons identifies school bullying cultures as typically having a web of dynamics which are much more complex than just considering bullying amongst students. These dynamics include:[70]

  • some students bully other students; some of these student bullies are themselves bullied by other student bullies; some of these student bullies bully teachers
  • some teachers bully students; some teacher bullies bully other teachers; some teacher bullies bully parents
  • some office staff bully teachers, students and parents
  • some principals bully teachers, office staff, students and parents
  • some parents bully teachers, office staff, principals, and even their own children.[71]



It is important for teachers to be able to identify the signs of bullying, and also be equipped with the strategies to help both bullies and victims. Below is a list of possible warning signs, as well as ways that teachers can help students in their classrooms.

  • Easily frustrated and quick to anger
  • Does not recognize impact of their behavior
  • Has friends who bully and are aggressive
  • Few friends at school or in neighborhood
  • Afraid to go to school
  • Appears anxious or fearful
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lower interest in activities and lower performance at school
  • Injuries, bruising, damaged belongings
  • May appear isolated from the peer group
  • Complains of feeling unwell (headaches and stomach aches)

Verifying the signs that signify bullying characteristics are often harder than expected. They are usually viewed as loud and assertive and may even be hostile in particular situations. Bullies are not usually the largest kid in a class, but may be part of the popular or cool kids group.[72] The bullies that are part of a popular group may not come from intense disciplinary homes, rather they gain acceptance from the peer group by bullying a victim.[57]

Victims of bullying typically are physically smaller, more sensitive, unhappy, cautious, anxious, quiet, and withdrawn. They are often described as passive or submissive. Possessing these qualities make these individuals vulnerable to being victimized. Unfortunately bullies know that these students will not retaliate, making them an easy target.[57]

A general semantics term called indexing is useful in dealing with the different types of bullying. Indexing is a way to categorize of signs. This allows educators and parents a way to assist in recognizing how bullying behavior varies. By understanding and recognizing the different varieties of behavior it helps to allow flexibility in the responses to the variations.[55]

Common myths/misconceptions

Researchers Olweus, 2003[73] and Scarpaci, 2006[74]

  • Bullying is a consequence of large class or school size.
  • Bullying is a consequence of competition for grades and failure in school
  • Bullying is a consequence of poor self-esteem and insecurity
  • Students who are overweight, wear glasses, have a different ethnic origin, or speak with an unusual dialect are particularly at risk of becoming bully victims
  • Bullying is just teasing.
  • Some people deserve to be bullied.
  • Only boys are bullies.
  • Bullying is a normal part of growing up.
  • Bullies will go away if ignored.
  • It's tattling to tell an adult about a bully.
  • The best way to deal with a bully is by fighting or trying to get even.
  • People who are bullied will only hurt for a while and then get over it.


School connection is the positive relationship between students, teachers, administrators, and educational support professionals. Studies have shown that bullying programs set up in schools with the help and engagements of staff and faculty have been shown to reduce peer victimization and bullying.[75] Incidences of bullying are noticeably reduced when the students themselves disapprove of bullying.[76]

Research indicates that methods such as increasing awareness, instituting zero tolerance for fighting, or placing troubled students in the same group or classroom are ineffective in reducing bullying while other measures, including increasing empathy for victims, adopting a program with a "whole school" approach, which includes all teachers, students, and parents, and student-led anti-bullying efforts, have shown significant progress and success.[77]

A review of research regarding anti-bullying efforts in schools summarizes the most successful ways:[78]

  • Everyone in the school must change, not only the identified bullies.
  • Intervention must begin in early grades.
  • Evaluation of the programs in place is critical since some programs may increase bullying rather than reduce it.
  • Some students taking online classes to avoid bullies at school.

Strategies for teachers

Children spend a lot of their time in school. Although bullying can happen anywhere, the vast majority of bullying occurs in school, which means that teacher have profound influence on the students behavior. Thus, whether and how teachers intervene in the case of bullying is of great importance. Research showed that teachers interventions are best described by five strategy types:[79]

  • authority-based interventions towards the bullies
  • non-punitive work with the bullies
  • involving other adults (parents, other teachers, principals)
  • supporting the victims
  • ignoring the bullying incident

Teachers generally seem to focus on the bullies (with a strong preference for authority-based interventions) while neglecting the victims.[79]

Supporting victims could include the following actions:

  • Teach the appropriate social skills
  • Build self-esteem
  • Assure the child that bullying is not their fault
  • Encourage students to report bullying
  • Advocate for individual children
  • Model healthy relationships
  • Promote inclusive classrooms
  • Manage student interactions
  • Intervene early (and frequently)

Non-punitive work with bullies could include the following actions:

  • Help them change the way they use their power
  • Acknowledge positive behaviors
  • Give consequences that teach (and not punish)
  • Establish a code of conduct
  • Have student sign a behavioral contract


Some states of the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying.
  Law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  Law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation only
  Law that prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation only
  Law that forbids school-based instruction of LGBT issues in a positive manner
  Law that forbids local school districts from having anti-bullying policies that enumerate protected classes of students
  Law that prohibits bullying in school but lists no categories of protection
  No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools

In the United Kingdom

Section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 provides for an anti-bullying policy for all state schools to be made available to parents.

In the United States

As of August 2013 all states, except for Montana, have anti-bullying laws.[80] Some policies require disciplinary procedures while others mandate that schools track and report every incident. A growing number of states also require schools to employ someone trained in anti-bullying education.


Despite widespread attention to the issue, anti-bullying advocates worry that many of the new laws don’t provide adequate funding to implement anti-bullying strategies, particularly those calling for training teachers, counselors or administrators. With state budgets facing huge shortfalls in recent years, lawmakers have been cutting education funding, including for bullying prevention, leading some school districts to resist anti-bullying mandates."[81] Another problem is that with state mandatory reporting laws, the legislators watch the schools and principals based on frequency, incentive's those site based leaders to under-report instances.[82]

American victims and their families have legal recourse, such as suing a school or teacher for failure to adequately supervise, for racial or gender discrimination, or for other civil rights violations. Special education students who are victimized may sue a school or school board under the ADA or Section 504. In addition, the victims of some school shootings have sued both the shooters' families and the schools.[83]

In Canada

According to CBC News Canada "Anyone who posts or transmits an "intimate image" of another individual without that person’s consent could face up to five years in prison. MacKay said C-13, also known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, reflected the government’s commitment "to ensuring that our children are safe from online predators and from online exploitation." Since introducing the bill, MacKay has said that C-13 is also meant to update the Criminal Code to reflect modern communications such as email and social media.[84]

Reduction strategies

Researchers (Olweus, 1993);[85] Craig & Peplar, 1999;[86] Ross, 1998;[87] Morrison, 2002;[88] Whitted & Dupper, 2005;[89] Aynsley-Green, 2006;[90] Fried-Sosland[91] provide several strategies which address ways to help reduce bullying, these include:

  • Make sure an adult knows what is happening to their child[ren].
  • Enforce anti bullying laws.
  • Make it clear that bullying is never acceptable.
  • Recognize that bullying can occur at all levels within the hierarchy of the school (i.e., including adults).
  • Hold a school conference day or forum devoted to bully/victim problems.
  • Conduct assessments in your school to determine how often bullying occurs, where it happens, how students and adults intervene, and whether your prevention efforts are working.[92]
  • Increase adult supervision in the yard, halls and washrooms more vigilantly.
  • Emphasize caring, respect and safety.
  • Emphasize consequences of hurting others.
  • Enforce consistent and immediate consequences for aggressive behaviors.
  • Improve communication among school administrators, teachers, parents and students.
  • Set up a peer support program.[93]
  • Have a school problem box where kids can report problems, concerns and offer suggestions.
  • Teach cooperative learning activities.
  • Help bullies with anger control and the development of empathy.
  • Encourage positive peer relations.
  • The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Warmth, positive interest, and involvement from adults; firm limits on unacceptable behavior; consistent application of nonpunitive, nonphysical sanctions for unacceptable behavior or violations of rules; and adults who act as authorities and positive role models.[73]
  • Offer a variety of extracurricular activities which appeal to a range of interests
  • Teach your child to defend him/herself verbally. Fighting back physically may land the bullied in school trouble or even legal trouble.[94]
  • Keep in mind the range of possible causes: e.g., medical, psychiatric, psychological, developmental, family problems, etc.
  • If problems continue in your school, press harassment charges against the family of the person who is bullying you.
  • Adjust teacher preparation programs to include appropriate bullying interventions to use in their classroom.[95]

School shootings

"Eighty-seven percent of students think school shootings are meant to get back at someone for bullying them"[96] School bullying is associated with school shootings. 87% of the attackers were motivated by being bullied. School shooters that died or committed suicide left behind evidence that they were bullied, including Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Nathan Ferris, Edmar Aparecido Freitas, Brian Head, Seung-Hui Cho, Wellington Menezes Oliveira, Kimveer Gill, Karl Pierson and Jeff Weise.[97]

Events and organizations

Events and nonprofits and other organizations which address bullying in schools include:

See also


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Fictional bullies

  • Henry Bowers, Victor "Vic" Criss, Reginald "Belch" Huggins, Patrick Hockstetter, Peter Gordon, Steve "Moose" Sadler, and Gard Jagermeyer in Stephen King's novel It
  • Clarence "Buddy" Repperton, Richard "Richie" Trelawney, Donald "Don" Vandenberg, and Peter "Moochie" Welch in Stephen King's novel Christine
  • Chris Hargensen and numerous other girls and students in Stephen King's novel Carrie
  • Roger Klotz, William "Willie" White, Ned Cauphee, and Boomer Bledsoe on the animated television series Doug
  • Flash Thompson in Spider-Man comics
  • Scarecrow (1984 film)

Further reading

External links