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School Safety Topics

Bullying

"We've got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it’s not something we have to accept. As parents and students, as teachers and members of the community, we can take steps -- all of us -- to help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe; a climate in which they all can feel like they belong."

-- President Barack Obama, 2011
Young child teasing another child against a brick wall

Understanding the Issue

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

  • Are there different forms of bullying?
    Yes. And knowing them helps with recognition.

    Verbal bullying is saying or writing things. Verbal bullying includes things like name-calling, teasing, inappropriate/sexual comments or threats.

    Social bullying involves damaging someone’s reputation or relationships, and it could include spreading rumors about someone or humiliating them in public or deliberate exclusion of someone from a group.

    Physical bullying includes actions like hitting,tripping, spitting, or someone or taking or breaking someone’s possessions.

    Cyber-bullying is bullying that takes place using digital technology via social media, text messages, chat rooms and websites.
     
  • What is the "circle of bullying"?
    Bullying usually involves more than just the child who is bullied and the child who does the bullying. Here is a look at various roles from StopBullying.gov: The roles kids play in bullying are not limited to those who bully others and those who are bullied. Some researchers talk about the "circle of bullying" to define both those directly involved in bullying and those who actively or passively assist the behavior or defend against it. Direct roles include:


    Kids who Bully: These children engage in bullying behavior towards their peers. There are many risk factors that may contribute to the child's involvement in the behavior. Often, these students require support to change their behavior and address any other challenges that may be influencing their behavior.

    Kids who are Bullied: These children are the targets of bullying behavior. Some factors put children at more risk of being bullied, but not all children with these characteristics will be bullied. Sometimes, these children may need help learning how to respond to bullying. Even if a child is not directly involved in bullying, they may be contributing to the behavior. Witnessing the behavior may also affect the child, so it is important for them to learn what they should do when they see bullying happen. Roles kids play when they witness bullying include:
     
    Kids who Assist: These children may not start the bullying or lead in the bullying behavior, but serve as an "assistant" to children who are bullying. These children may encourage the bullying behavior and occasionally join in.

    Kids who Reinforce: These children are not directly involved in the bullying behavior but they give the bullying an audience. They will often laugh or provide support for the children who are engaging in bullying. This may encourage the bullying to continue.
     
    Outsiders: These children remain separate from the bullying situation. They neither reinforce the bullying behavior nor defend the child being bullied. Some may watch what is going on but do not provide feedback about the situation to show they are on anyone’s side. Even so, providing an audience may encourage the bullying behavior. Note: These kids often want to help, but don’t know how.

    Kids who Defend: These children actively comfort the child being bullied and may come to the child's defense when bullying occurs. How widespread is the problem and what is the impact? Every day, thousands of Children, teens and young adults around the country are bullied. Estimates are that nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year - upwards of 13 million students. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have health and mental health issues. If we fail to address bullying we put ourselves at a disadvantage for increasing academic achievement and making sure all of our students are college and career ready. 
    (Source: White House Conference on Bullying, 2011)
  • How widespread is the problem and what is the impact?
    Every day, thousands of children, teens and young adults around the country are bullied. Estimates are that nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year - upwards of 13 million students. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have health and mental health issues. If we fail to address bullying we put ourselves at a disadvantage for increasing academic achievement and making sure all of our students are college and career ready. (Source: White House Conference on Bullying, 2011)