- This article primarily concerns student-related bullying at school. For teacher-related bullying at school, see Bullying in teaching.
School bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in an educational setting. Bullying can be physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional in nature.
School bullying may be more specifically defined as an unwelcome behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be repeated (or potentially repeated) and aggressive, and must include
- A difference in power: Kids who bully use their physical strength or popularity to control or harm others.
- Repetition: happening more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
The long term effects of school bullying are numerous, and can include sensitivity, anxiety, and depression. Recent statistics suggest that the majority of students will experience bullying at some point in their academic careers. In the early 21st century, increasing attention has been given to the importance of teachers and parents understanding and recognizing the signs of bullying (among both bullies and victims), and being equipped with strategies and tools to address school bullying.
- 1 Statistics
- 2 Types of school bullying include
- 3 Associated with
- 4 Forms
- 5 Where and When Bullying Happens
- 6 Warning Signs of Bullying
- 7 Roles Kids Play
- 8 Short-term and long-term effects
- 9 Complex dynamics of a school bullying culture
- 10 Responses
- 11 Events and Organizations
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Fictional bullies
- 15 Further reading
- 16 External links
Bullying is a common occurrence in most schools. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately "40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers". Regardless of the grade level, socioeconomic environment, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, bullying can happen to anyone. However, various studies point out that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more bullied than students from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Most children experience bullying at some point in their academic careers. The following is a list of statistics that illustrate the severity of bullying within classrooms:
- 20–40% of bullying victims actually report being bullied
- 70% of secondary school students experience bullying in school
- 7–12% of bullies are habitual and pose a serious threat
- 23% of 9th graders have carried a weapon to school recently
- 5–15% of students are constantly bullied
- 27% of students are bullied because of their refusal to engage in common sexual practices
- 25% of students encourage bullying if not given proper education and support in anti-bullying techniques
- At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently 
- 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying 
- The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth
- The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims
This was a survey conducted by the NICHD and were the results on what students did in a school. "The children were asked to complete a questionnaire during a class period that asked how often they either bullied other students, or were the target of bullying behavior. A total of 10.6 percent of the children replied that they had 'sometimes' bullied other children, a response category defined as 'moderate' bullying. An additional 8.8 percent said they had bullied others once a week or more, defined as 'frequent' bullying. Similarly, 8.5 percent said they had been targets of moderate bullying, and 8.4 percent said they were bullied frequently. Out of all the students, 13 percent said they had engaged in moderate or frequent bullying of others, while 10.6 percent said they had been bullied either moderately or frequently. Some students-6.3 percent-had both bullied others and been bullied themselves. In all, 29 percent 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."  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".
Because of the low numbers of students who actually report incidents of bullying, teachers need to have a certain level of awareness that will thwart any potential problems. This awareness starts with understanding bullying. An additional study has proven that statistics show sixty percent of bullies in middle school will incur at least one criminal conviction by the age of twenty-four.
Types of school bullying include
- inappropriate touching
- school pranks
- use of available objects as weapons
- spreading malicious rumors about people
- keeping certain people out of a "group"
- getting certain people to "gang up" on others (this also could be considered physical bullying)
- making fun of certain people
- ignoring people on purpose – the silent treatment, also known as 'Sending to Coventry'
- pretending the victim is non-existent
- saying hurtful sentences (also a form of verbal bullying)
- belittling 
Verbal bullying is any slanderous statements or accusations that cause the victim undue emotional distress. Examples include:
- directing foul language (profanity) at the target
- using derogatory terms or playing with the person's name
- commenting negatively on someone's looks, clothes, body etc. – personal abuse
- being laughed at
- belittling 
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." 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. Cyber bullying includes, but is not limited to, abuse using email, blog, instant messaging, text messaging, or websites. A lot of kids who are bullied in school are likely to be bullied over the internet, and vice versa.
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." 
The tragedy of cyber bullying has become extremely prevalent in today's society. Since 95% of social media using teens reported to have witnessed malicious behavior on social media from 2009 to 2013, the odds for rashness from the victim are very high. This calls for preventative measures. There is obviously not a 24 monitoring system on sites like Facebook, or Twitter so in this new age children must be taught at a young age the proper Internet behavior. This is a call for parents and educators to teach these modern skills. Three basic abilities to achieve in this are education through awareness, and advocacy. Parents and educators need to make children aware at a young age of the life changing effects cyber bullying 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. Other than organizing events, calling for social media sites to take charge could make the difference between life and death.
Cyber-bullying is making it increasingly difficult to enforce any form of prevention The rapid growth of social media is aiding the spread of cyber-bullying and prevention policies are struggling to keep up. In order for prevention policies to be put in place the definition of cyber-bullying 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. Most importantly, clear and concise legislation must be created on the state and federal level to aid in world wide prevention.
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."
As part of its research into sexual bullying in schools, the BBC Panorama program commissioned a questionnaire aimed at young people aged 11–19 years in schools and youth clubs across five regions of England. The survey revealed that of the 273 young people who responded to the questionnaire, 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. UK 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. This includes incidents such as groping and using sexually insulting language. From April 2008 to March 2009, ChildLine counselled a total of 156,729 children. Of these, 26,134 children spoke about bullying as a main concern and 300 of these talked specifically about sexual bullying.
Some people, including the UK charity Beatbullying, have claimed that children are being bullied into providing ‘sexual favours’ in exchange for protection as gang culture enters inner city schools. 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 behaviour was happening in schools.
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 be perpetrated in person or in cyberspace. In person, it can take place in schoolyards, school hallways, sports fields and gymnasiums, classrooms, and on the school bus.
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. 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. 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. 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. This somewhat turns the tables on the bully, making them the victim. Unfortunately, this leads to a strategy of bully or be bullied.
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. Bullies are typically overly concerned about their appearance and the popularity standings. They have an urge to be dominate, or to be in charge of others. Bullies are usually easily pressured by their peers and feel the need to impress them. 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 themself 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 a female who has low self-esteem and therefore tries 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. 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.
Bullying is delivered in a number of different forms and is not limited to one gender. Forms include verbal, physical, direct, sexual harassment, and relational bullying. Bullying covers a wide range of age groups but is particularly prominent between the ages of 9–18. Boys tend to do more bullying than girls, especially in the form of physical bullying. However girls are just as guilty. They usually tend to bully in verbal forms.
Understanding the semiotics of school-age bullying may increase the chances of stopping the problem before drastic measures are taken by the victims, such as suicide. Bully, target, and bystander are labels that have been created to help describe and understand the roles of the individuals involved in the vicious cycle. Barbara Coloroso, an expert in the field of bullying prevention, explains that the labels serve as descriptors of a child’s behavior rather than permanently labeling the child.
Where and When Bullying Happens
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.
The bathroom, locker room, bus, from and back of the school, gym, parking lot, coat room, and cubby areas are other hazardous bullying zones.
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.
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.
Signs that a child is being bullied
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing
- Change in eating habits
- Declining grades
- Continuous school absences
Signs that your child is bullying others
- 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 your child has witnessed bullying
- Poor school behavior
- Emotional disturbance
- Post-traumatic stress
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Suicidal tendencies
Roles Kids Play
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”.
- 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.
Even if you are not directly involved in the bulling you play a role. There is several roles kids play when witnessing bullying they include:
- Kids who assist – These kids’ help in the bullying but do not directly start it. They are encouraged further bullying from surrounding peers.
- Kids who reinforce – These kids are not directly involved in the bullying or assist in the bullying. These kids are ones who laugh and give the bully an audience.
- Outsiders – These kids are incident bystanders who are not involved at all in the bullying but witness it. They mainly will feel sorry for the victim but do not know how to get involved.
- Kids who defend – These kids either get directly involved or defend the victim or there to console the victim after the bullying.
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:
- suicide (bullycide) Many feel unwanted in life and that they should not live
- significant drop in school performance
- Feeling as if their life has fallen apart
- Excessive stress
- abiding feelings of insecurity
- lack of trust
- extreme sensitivity (hypervigilance)
- mental illness such as psychopathy
Complex dynamics of a school bullying culture
- 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 their own children.
Verifying the signs that signify bullying characteristics are slightly 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Common Myths/Misconceptions About Bullying
- 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.
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 a teacher’s influence is profound. 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 behaviour
- Has friends who bully and are aggressive
- Few friends at school or in neighbourhood
- 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)
Helping students who are bullied
- Teach the appropriate social skills
- Build self-esteem
- Encourage students to report bullying
- Advocate for individual children
- Model healthy relationships
- Promote inclusive classrooms
- Manage student interactions
- Intervene early (and frequently)
Helping students who bully:
- Help them change the way they use their power
- Acknowledge positive behaviours
- Give consequences that teach (and not punish)
- Establish a code of conduct
- Have student sign a behavioural contract
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Anti-Bullying Laws 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.
Anti-Bullying Laws across the United States As of August 2013 all states, except for Montana, have anti-bullying laws. "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."
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.
Strategies to reduce school bullying
Researchers (Olweus, 1993); Craig & Peplar, 1999; Ross, 1998; Morrison, 2002; Whitted & Dupper, 2005; Aynsley-Green, 2006; Fried-Sosland 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
"Eighty-seven percent of students think school shootings are meant to get back at someone for bullying them" 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, Karl Pierson and Jeff Weise.
Events and Organizations
Events and nonprofits and other organizations which address bullying in schools include:
- Act Against Bullying
- The Bully Police Squad
- Bully-Free ABA!
- Bullying UK
- Ditch the Label
- GRIN Campaign
- International Day of Pink
- Jer's Vision
- Kidpower (organization)
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- "Prevention At School. "Stopbullying.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 April 2014.
- Cowie, Helen; Nicky Hutson, Ozhan Oztug and Carrie Myers (March 2008). "The impact of peer support schemes on pupils’ perceptions of bullying, aggression and safety at school". Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 13 (1): 63–71. doi:10.1080/13632750701814708.
- Lakewood, Mark. "Bullying Prevention Skills and Techniques for Children".
- Dake, J. A.; Price, J. H, Telljohann, S. K. (2003). "The nature and extent of bullying at school". The Journal of School Health 73 (5): 0173180. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2003.tb03599.x. PMID 12793102.
- "School Bullying Statistics". Retrieved 2014-02-23.
- Bullying in Schools
- Henry Bowers and his gang in Stephen King's novel It
- Buddy Repperton and his gang in Stephen King's novel Christine
- Chris Hargensen and numerous other girls and students in Stephen King's novel Carrie
- Roger Klotz and his gang on the animated television series Doug
- Flash Thompson in Spider-Man comics
- Stuart W. Twemlow, Frank Sacco (2008). Why School Antibullying Programs Don't Work. Jason Aronson Inc, ISBN 978-0-7657-0475-7
- "My Bully My Bra: Confronting Bullying in Schools." Cape Town, 2011. A guide for students, parents and teachers. Includes stories, comics, poetry, posters, slogans and resources for teachers.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to School bullying.|
- "Bullying Widespread in U.S. Schools, Study Finds," National Institutes of Health
- StopBullying.gov, Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, & Justice
- Bullying Affects All Middle School Kids, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Girls Bullying Girls: An Introduction to Relational Aggression, National Association of School Psychologists
- "School Bullying"
- "School Bullying Hurts: Evidence of Psychological and Academic Challenges among Students with Bullying Histories."
- Student Bullying: Overview of Research, Federal Initiatives, and Legal Issues Congressional Research Service
- "Nobullying is an online forum aimed at educating, advising, counselling and all importantly, helping to stop bullying, in particular, cyber bullying"