Bullying Basics

Bullying is behavior that's intentionally hurtful and repetitive, not a one-time act.  It ususally involves a child with greater physical or social power dominating a child with less.  Bullying can take several forms: Physical (e.g., hitting, shoving, tripping). Verbal (e.g., name-calling, insults) Psychological (e.g., rumors, humiliation, social exclusion). 


Cyberbullying is when someone uses computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices to send abusive or threatening messages, spread rumors, or post embarassing images.  Cyberbullies may start online "hate campaigns" against their victims or send messages supposedly from the victims. 

The Scop of the Problem

Bullying is a serious problem linked to teen and preteen suicide as well as school shootings.  Research shows that 15-25% of  U.S. students are bullied with some frequency.  A reported 15-20% of U.S. students admit they bully others.  Only 25-50% of children talk to an adult about being bullied.

Who Is Affected?

Common targets of bullying are shy and anxious youth with few or no friends.  The most likely kids to be bullied are those who are gay or believed to be gay.  However, bullying affects nearly all children.  Research shows that 85% of youth witness school bullying incidents. This can cause fear, sadness, powerlessness, and guilt for the bystanders, or may influence them to bully others.

How To Protect Your Kids

*  Find out if their schools have bully-prevention programs and/or procedures.  If so, learn about


*  Role-playing bullying scenarios.  Teach your kids how to stay calm and walk away from the


*  Advise your kids to avoid bullies by sitting near the bus driver on the bus, walking to and from

    school or with a  buddy, staying in areas with other students and adults around, and not using

     the bathroom  locker room alone, if possible.

*  Make sure your kids use the privacy settings on social networking sites such as Facebook, only

   "friend" people they know and trust, and never give out their passwords to anyone but you.


What to Do If Kids Have Been Bullied

 * Take their complaints seriously.

 * If the bullying happened at school, contact the teacher or school administration.  Confronting

    the bully yourself may worsen the problem.

  * Ask the teacher to find out if other adults witnessed the bullying.

  * In case of cyberbullying, save all communications from the bully but block further messages

     and change your child's contact info if necessary.  Report the incident to the service provider

     and  your child's school.  Contact the police if you feel your child is in dange.


A Matter of Life or Death

If you suspect your child feels depressed, andgry, or isolated due to bullying, or has thoughts of suicide or violence, seek counseling for your child right away.


Is Your Child A Bully?

Common traits of bullies include being: impulsive *quick-tempered* easily frustrated * dominant* lacking  in empathy* reluctant to follow rules* If boys, physically stronger than their peers.

Children who bully others are more likely to: get into frequent fights* be injured in a fight * vandalize or steal property * drink alcohol * smoke * carry a weapon * skip school * drop out of school.  If you suspect your child is a bully, share your concerns with your child's teacher, school counselor, or principal. If your child needs additional help, consult a mental health professional.

Talk with you child as well.  Set clear rules about not bullying and enforce them.