Bullying is an unacceptable behavior that adults and students have a responsibility to stop. Schools must have clear and comprehensive prevention practices and policies that address all forms of bullying and harassment and emphasize prevention; timely, consistent intervention; social-emotional supports for victims and bullies; and clear, effective disciplinary policies. School psychologists work with educators, students, and families to ensure that every child feels safe at, and on the way to and from, school.

Resources for Families and Educators

A Framework for School Wide Bullying Prevention and Safety
NASP is committed to supporting accessible, high-quality education that prepares our children for college, work, and citizenship. Creating safe and supportive schools that are free from bullying, discrimination, harassment, aggression, violence, and abuse is essential to this mission.

Bullying: Brief Facts and Tips for Children and Adults
Information for adults and children about different types of bullying and how to address these behaviors.

Supporting Victims and Perpetrators of Bullying Guidelines for Parents and Educators
It is important that parents and educators recognize the possible harmful consequences, risk factors, and warning signs of bullying and are equipped to prevent or intervene to stop the behavior as early as possible.

Preventing Bullying: Guidelines for Administrators and Crisis Teams
Schools have a legal and ethical responsibility to prevent bullying behavior and ensure that all students feel safe and supported at school.

Bullying & Youth Suicide: Breaking the Connection
How school leaders respond to the suicide of a student will help determine the depth and duration of its impact on the school community.


Bullying Prevention: 5 Tips for Teachers, Principals, and Parents

Valuable bully prevention tips for teachers, parents, and principals.

Approximately 32 percent of students report being bullied at school. Bullied students are more likely to take a weapon to school, get involved in physical fights, and suffer from anxiety and depression, health problems, and mental health problems. They suffer academically (especially high-achieving black and Latino students). And research suggests that schools where students report a more severe bullying climate score worse on standardized assessments than schools with a better climate.

This is all common sense to educators. They have known for decades that students need to be in safe, supportive learning environments to thrive. And the vast majority care deeply about keeping children safe.

But especially given that commitment to student safety, why do so many children experience bullying?

In Principal magazine, elementary principal, now retired, James Dillon writes that in bullying prevention trainings, he asks participants to choose the one group they believe is most responsible for addressing school violence and bullying: parents, students, school, or community. Inevitably, he gets a wide variety of responses. He suggests perhaps bullying problems are not addressed because “people think bullying prevention is someone else’s responsibility.”

large-scale study by the NEA and Johns Hopkins University that examined school staff’s perspectives on bullying and bullying prevention somewhat refutes that hypothesis, finding 98 percent of participants (all teachers and education support professionals) thought it was “their job” to intervene when they witnessed bullying. But just 54 percent received training on their district’s bullying prevention policy.

Without such training, some of Dillon’s other suggestions as to why bullying is so prevalent — that adults don’t recognize some behaviors as bullying and that bullying is often ineffectually addressed using the traditional discipline system of applying punishment to a perpetrator — make sense. So whom should we blame for the state of bullying?

As Dillon puts it, “The reality is that no one is to blame, yet everyone is responsible.” We all can work to prevent bullying, be it on a school- or classroom-wide basis, or even at home.

Five Tips to Help Principals Prevent Bullying

According to Dillon, effectively addressing a bullying problem requires a culture change. A true culture change takes time, but a few key steps to help principals get started:

  • Practice What You Preach Don’t use your status as the school leader as the lever for change; instead, “listen before talking and reflect before acting” to ensure your staff feel valued (this is backed up by the NEA survey, which found an important predictor of adult willingness to intervene in bullying was their “connectedness” to the school, defined as their belief they are valued as individuals and professionals in the learning process).
  • Assess the Extent of the Problem Survey students, staff and parents to find out how much and what type of bullying is going, as well as where and when, to target prevention efforts.
  • Develop a School-wide Code of Conduct that reinforces school values and clearly defines unacceptable behavior and consequences. Empower bystanders — teachers and especially students — to help enforce it by training them to identify and respond to inappropriate behavior.
  • Increase Adult Supervision Most bullying happens when adults are not present, so make sure they are “visible and vigilant” in hallways, stairwells, cafeterias and locker rooms, as well as on buses and the way to and from school for students who walk.
  • Conduct Bullying Prevention Activities such as all-school assemblies, communications campaigns or creative arts contests highlighting school values to bring the community together and reinforce the message that bullying is wrong.

(These tips were adapted from articles by James Dillon from Principal magazine, Sept/Oct 2010 and Ted Feinberg from Principal Leadership, Sept. 2003.)

Five Tips to Help Teachers Prevent Bullying

Even when a school leader doesn’t have a formal bullying prevention agenda, teachers can create safe, bully-free zones in their classrooms:

  • Know Your School and District Policies on Bullying Do your part to implement them effectively.
  • Treat Students and Others with Warmth and Respect Let students know that you are available to listen and help them.
  • Conduct Classroom Activities around Bullying Help your class identify bullying in books, TV shows and movies, and discuss the impact of that bullying and how it was/could be resolved. Hold class meetings in which students can talk about bullying and peer relations.
  • Discuss Bullying with Colleagues As a group, you will be better able to monitor the school environment. Discuss both bullying in general and concerns regarding specific students.
  • Take Immediate Action Failure to act provides tacit approval of the behavior and can cause it to spread.

(These tips were adapted from NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me and AFT’s See A Bully, Stop A Bully campaign resources.)

Five Tips to Help Parents Prevent Bullying

Parents and guardians are among a school’s best allies in bullying prevention:

  • Talk with and Listen to Your Children Everyday Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess. Ask about their peers. Children who feel comfortable talking to their parents about these matters before they are involved in bullying are more likely to get them involved after.
  • Spend time at School and Recess Schools can lack the resources to provide all students individualized attention during “free” time like recess. Volunteer to coordinate games and activities that encourage children to interact with peers aside from their best friends.
  • Be a Good Example When you get angry at waiters, other drivers or others, model effective communication techniques. As puts it, “Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is ok.”
  • Create Healthy Anti-Bullying Habits Starting as young as possible, coach your children on both what not to do (push, tease, and be mean to others) as well as what to do (be kind, empathize, and take turns). Also coach your child on what to do if someone is mean to him or to another (get an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away and ignore the bully).
  • Make Sure Your Child Understands Bullying Explicitly explain what it is and that it’s not normal or tolerable for them to bully, be bullied, or stand by and watch other kids be bullied.

(These tips were adapted from materials by the National PTA and

The Bottom Line

Bullying is an enormous problem, and we must all do our part to impact it. If nothing else, remember one of Dillon’s suggestions (intended for school leaders but I think applicable to all):

“Little things can make a big difference. Simple and genuine gestures, such as regularly greeting students, talking to students, and addressing students by name, help to make students feel connected.”

Anyone can start doing those types of things today. If you are interested in further resources on bullying and its prevention, check out Learning First Alliance member resources and the StopBullying website.

Bullying Prevention Resources

Committee for Children is dedicated to promoting the safety, well-being, and success of children in school and in life. The goal of this page is to empower kids and the adults around them with information and resources to help them understand what bullying is, who is affected by it, and what you and your community can do to prevent it.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is intentional negative behavior that’s repeated and involves an imbalance of social or physical power.

Who Is Affected?

Bullying doesn’t just affect the students being bullied. It can cause emotional harm and reduce academic achievement for all students involved.

How to Prevent It

Schools are uniquely positioned to prevent bullying, and effective prevention requires a multi-pronged effort.

“Bully” Is Not a Noun

Bullying is not a fixed characteristic. It’s something you can choose to do—or not. A message from bullying prevention expert Mia Doces.

Parents and Guardians

What Parents Should Know About Bullying: A Two-Part Article

Bullying includes behaviors such as hitting, teasing, taunting, spreading rumors and gossip, stealing, and excluding someone from a group. Bullying actions are carried out on purpose with the intent to harm someone.
Read Part 1 | Read Part 2

Make Conversation a Daily Habit

We recently partnered with Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Doug Baldwin and La-Z-Boy to help stop bullying and share some tips with parents.

A Discussion with Sesame Workshop

We partnered with Sesame Workshop—the producers of Sesame Street—to prevent bullying. Watch this five-part series to learn more about bullying, its effects, and what to do.

Clients and Educators

Bullying Prevention Unit

Research shows that feeling unsafe at school affects a student’s ability to learn, focus, and take academic risks. Our Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit is taught in conjunction with Second Step SEL in classrooms across the country. Learn more.

Share Your Success Stories

Have you integrated our Bullying Prevention Unit into your Second Step SEL? If so, and you’ve seen results, we’d like to hear your story! Email us at, and we may feature your story online, in newsletters, or in printed materials!

Policy and Advocacy

Committee for Children is Taking Action to Promote Child Well-Being

Fueled by our mission, we are advocates for change. We collaborate with lawmakers from around the country and support laws and policies that strengthen children’s well-being. We work to promote social-emotional learning, prevent violence, and reduce disproportionality, and influence state and federal laws, where we’re constantly pushing for positive change for children. Read more.

Read about our Joint Advocacy Efforts
See what bills we’re tracking that support bullying prevention legislation

Read our latest policy paper

Bullying Prevention in the Technology Age

Policies, practices, programs, and legislative changes that can address the prevention of bullying and cyber bullying and the myriad of negative outcomes associated with each.

“Children can’t learn in a climate of fear. One caring adult, who takes the time to listen, who steps in when he or she sees bullying, can make a world of difference to a bullied child. Our students are counting on us.” ~NEA President Dennis Van Roekel

Bullying can no longer be dismissed as child’s play. More pervasive and lethal today than in the past, bullying exacts a terrible toll on the overall school community— targets, perpetrators, and bystanders—robbing students of their opportunities to learn and inflicting emotional scars that can last a lifetime. On the rise across the country, bullying takes place not only on school buses and school grounds, but in the corridors of cyberspace, making it virtually inescapable for today’s students.

A recent surge of bullying-related suicides has caused growing concern among educators and focused national attention on the seriousness of bullying and the importance of a healthy school climate. NEA regards bullying as an education issue, a health issue, and a social justice issue. Given the core belief that all students deserve a great public school, NEA works to give educators the resources and information they need to support bullied students. Educators must be trained to handle bullying at the school level, and all stakeholders must collaborate on policies and programs to eliminate bullying in our public schools.

What Is Bullying Behavior? Bullying is the chronic infliction of physical hurt and/or psychological distress on another person, usually through an imbalance of power. Bullying can involve direct physical contact, verbal attacks intended to cause emotional harm, or indirect actions of social aggression intended to embarrass or isolate.

1 Verbal or social bullying can be just as damaging, or even more so, than physical bullying.

2 Although traditional forms of bullying are more common, cyberbullying has taken bullying to a new level of intensity. Using interactive technologies, such as text messages and social media Web sites, cyberbullying can occur around the clock, and the text or images can be widely disseminated, well beyond school grounds. School bullying and cyberbullying statistics show that 77 percent of students are bullied mentally, verbally, and physically and that one out of five students admits to doing some bullying.

3 In one study, 53 percent of students admitted to saying mean or hurtful things to someone online.

4 Who’s at Risk? Any student can be bullied, but some students are at higher risk than others, particularly those who seem “different” from the majority of the school population. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) students, students with disabilities, immigrants, and high-achieving ethnic minorities are often targets. Nationally, one out of three students is bullied monthly, with homophobia as one of the most common causes.

5 In fact, roughly nine out of 10 GLBT students experience harassment at school.

6 Bullying behaviors begin in elementary school and escalate in subtle and overt ways by middle and high school. The transition periods in a student’s life—from elementary to middle school, and from middle to high school—are among the most vulnerable periods of a student’s life.

7 Bullying and Student Achievement Bullying can leave physical and emotional scars. Research also shows that bullied students tend to have lower grades and achievement test scores than non victimized students, and that high-achieving Black and Hispanic students are particularly vulnerable to long-lasting academic effects.

8 One study found that bullying can account for a decrease of up to an average 1.5 letter grade in an academic subject across the middle school years.

9 Another study found that 33 percent of GLBT students missed at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe, compared to less than five percent of all students.

10 Nationwide, bullied students are more likely to fall behind in their studies, get sick and/or depressed, miss school, drop out, and even commit suicide. What’s more, studies have found that a school bullying climate may be linked with a school’s overall test scores.

11 The bottom line: students can’t learn when they fear for their safety. The Policy Landscape The rise in bullying-related tragedies among school-age children has led the U.S. Department of Education to take an aggressive stance towards the problem that includes issuing a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools clarifying when student bullying violates federal antidiscrimination laws and outlining schools’ responsibilities. In addition, states and localities across the country have adopted antibullying laws or strengthened laws already on the books. Currently, 48 out of 50 states, with the exception of South Dakota and Montana, have bullying-related legislation, but there is a lack of uniformity from state to state and among districts: definitions of bullying vary, some make no mention of cyberbullying, and incident reporting is usually emphasized over training and prevention. NEA’s own research shows that school staff training is essential to addressing the problem. An NEA survey found that 98 percent of educators believe it’s their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school, but many don’t feel equipped to do so. Almost half of all educators say they’ve received no training on their district’s bullying policy, and 74 percent say they could benefit from training on when and how to intervene in cyberbullying. The survey also found that bus drivers and other education support professionals, often on the front lines of bullying, are far less likely to receive the training they need.

12 NEA Position and Policy Recommendations NEA believes that children can’t learn in a climate of fear, that bullying has a profound impact on student achievement and overall school climate, and that the school environment/work site must be free from all forms of bullying— including physical, psychological, and cyber. NEA further believes that teachers, education support professionals, and administrators should be trained to handle bullying at the school level and that all stakeholders—local school districts, local affiliates, and higher education institutions—should collaborate on a range of bullying prevention policies and programs:

■ Establish strong anti bullying policies and legislation that include the definitions of bullying and cyberbullying, clear consequences for such behaviors, and procedures for reporting and appeals.

■Provide training for all school employees—including education support professionals—in the prevention and intervention of all bullying behaviors.

■ Provide professional development materials and resources to school employees.

■ Conduct an annual school climate survey. A positive school climate enhances the work environment for everyone— students, staff, and parents.

■ Develop and implement educational programs designed to help students recognize, understand, prevent, oppose, and eliminate bullying, while emphasizing respect for all. While recognizing the need for a coordinated effort to address bullying in America’s public schools, NEA is encouraged by research that shows one caring adult can make all the difference to a bullied student if that adult listens to the student, asks the right questions, then takes decisive action. Prevent bullying by developing healthy social relationships and helping students feel connected to their school.

NEA Resources

School districts, with help from their state Departments of Education, can provide all public school employees with the training they need—and want—to eliminate bullying from our schools. NEA provides a variety of free resources to help educators create a healthy school climate and become effective antibullying agents:

■ National Bullying and Sexual Harassment Prevention and Intervention Program and National Training Program on Safety, Bias, and GLBT Issues provide training and resources to members, along with easily implemented intervention strategies.

■ NEA’s Bullyfree: It Starts with Me Campaign identifies caring adults in our schools and communities willing to take a pledge of action to help bullied students. In return, they’re provided with the resources to address bullying in their own schools and classrooms. nea. org/home/NEABullyFreeSchools.html

■ bNetS@vvy Program helps educate adolescents, parents, and educators on the risks and benefits associated with Internet use.

■ Priority Schools Campaign, NEA’s initiative to help local and state affiliates improve struggling schools, incorporates anti-bullying strategies into school transformation measures.


“Kids will be kids” is a famous saying suggesting that bullying is a normal part of growing up.

Yet with beatings, death threats, and 24-hour harassment via technology, bullying has become a dangerous, life-threatening epidemic. Children cannot get away from it, which has led to many suicides. Schools are struggling to take a stand against bullying, and with parents, politics, and the media involved, educators have a difficult time pleasing everyone.

Bullying can occur randomly or regularly. It can happen daily, weekly, or monthly. In fact, one in 10 bullying victims are bullied daily, while one in five victims are bullied once or twice a month (Mahoney, 2012). The bullied student can rarely predict when the bullying will occur, and if the student can predict the bullying, often teachers and staff may not address the incident. In fact, staff may not even catch the first few acts of bulling.

Schools need to find ways to reduce this problem. This includes having all teachers, staff, and administrators on board to prevent bullying from occurring. Here are some tips to help you reduce bullying in your school.


1. Have a clear definition of bullying

Bullying occurs at all grade levels. An entire school district needs to have the same language within all its schools in order to reduce bullying. To start, the schools need to have a common definition of bullying. CPI defines bullying (2011) as being characterized by intentionally aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power and strength. It can be exemplified through physical, verbal/nonverbal, and/or relational means. It is a repeated offense, even when teachers observe it for the first time. Talking to the victim about what happened and whether there have been past occurrences is very important.

Staff should be able to distinguish between teasing and bullying. According to Sweeting and West (2001), teasing is reported more frequently than bullying because teasing is done to irritate or provoke another with persistent distractions or other annoyances. Bullying, on the other hand, is an imbalance of power. This is key. Bullied students are unable or viewed as unlikely to defend themselves, which is what causes the imbalance of power. Bullying occurs in different forms such as threats, teasing, name calling, excluding, preventing others from going where they want or doing what they want, pushing, hitting, and all forms of physical violence (Mahoney, 2012). The severity of bullying varies from case to case.

Cyberbullying is becoming more of a problem. Cyberbullying is the “use of any electronic device to harass, intimidate, or bully another” (Mahoney, 2012). This includes texts, emails, videos, and posts and messages on social media. Schools need to ensure that bullying prevention efforts are stressed when it comes to cyberbullying. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “All school staff need to be trained on what bullying is, what the school’s policies and rules are, and how to enforce the rules.”


2. Remove labels; address behaviors

When teachers and staff call a child a bully or a victim, they place a judgment on that child, which can then cause problems in the future for that student.

When addressing students’ behavior, be nonjudgmental. First, find out what happened before deciding whether or not the incident qualifies as bullying (US Department of Health and Human Services). Looking at the specific behaviors that occurred is important so that they can be addressed at a later time. Keep in mind that each student involved in a situation comes from different circumstances. Everyone has baggage. There may be a reason that the child who engages in bullying behavior is acting this way. To fix the problem, involve the student who’s doing the bullying (US Department of Health and Human Services). They need to know what their actions are doing to the student they’re bullying.

Ensure that the person who is doing the bulling knows what behavior is wrong, why it’s wrong, and what the consequences are for engaging in the behavior. If the behavior keeps occurring, the parents will need to be involved. Multiple staff members from various schools have reported that parents of kids who engage in bullying behavior come in saying that their children are victims because they’ve been accused of being bullies. But when teachers address specific behaviors such as disrupting the classroom or harassing other students, parents recognize that the behavior needs to stop.


3. Set clear and enforceable rules and expectations

Age-appropriate rules allow a student to know what behavior is expected. When kids are younger, keep rules simple. When kids are older, shape the rules to help them meet their maturity level.

Scheuermann and Hall (2008) have a list of suggestions for writing rules within a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) framework. The authors suggest that staff should:

  • State rules in positive terms,
  • Keep the number of rules to a minimum (3–5 depending upon age),
  • Set rules that cover multiple situations,
  • Make sure rules are age appropriate,
  • Teach your students the rules,
  • Set an example for rule-following behavior, and
  • Be consistent in enforcing the rules.

These guidelines for rules set a tone for the classroom. They can help the teacher have a well-managed classroom that is less prone to bullying behaviors (US Department of Health and Human Services).

The rules and the consequences for breaking the rules should be clearly stated. Students need to know what will happen if they engage in a certain behavior. This provides clear expectations.

Rules need to enforce respect, responsibility, and safety (Scheuermann and Hall, 2008). Rules should incorporate these vital components and apply to every situation every day to everyone. Remember, rules are there to keep students and staff safe.


4. Reward positive behavior

When a student does something bad, it’s easy to point it out, especially if the student always seems to be in trouble. What if you caught him doing something good? Would you point it out? Wright (2012) came up with the “Good Behavior Game” in which good classroom behaviors are rewarded during the instructional time of day.

Not many people choose to reinforce good behavior because good behavior is expected. This is a problem. When a child is always getting into trouble, then “catching them being good” is positive and reinforcing (Mahoney, 2012). Pointing out the good behavior acknowledges and reinforces that behavior. This way the student will be more likely to engage in the positive behavior again. Just like setting clear rules and enforcing those rules, reinforcing good behavior will give students clear expectations about what you want in a positive way.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that schools “Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior. Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publically reprimand. Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences.” Following these suggestions can help reduce bullying behaviors by helping students become more accepting of the positive and less likely to engage in negative behaviors.


5. Have open communication

Communication is key to building rapport. When teachers have open communication with their students, their students will feel more open to talking to them about their problems—including bullying. Having classroom meetings is one way to build that communication. Classroom meetings provide a way for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics (US Department of Health and Human Services). These meetings can help teachers and parents stay informed about what’s going on at the school and in the child’s life. Be sure to listen during these meetings.

Empathic Listening is key. Students want to know that they’re truly being listened to. They need to feel welcome to talk to their teachers one-on-one, especially if they feel they’ve been bullied. Keep in mind that a student who’s being bullied might not want to say something in front of the whole class or if the student who’s doing the bullying is in the classroom meeting.

Schools need to have adequate reporting systems as well. They need to encourage teachers and staff to report the incidents that occur. This way the school can provide a way to protect students and prevent these circumstances from occurring again. Reporting also helps track the individual incidents and responses so you can see if there’s a trend (US Department of Health and Human Services). By using this system, possible future incidents can be prevented. Make the reporting system easy to use and confidential, and encourage staff to use it.

Communication is not just verbal. A school can also provide nonverbal cues. These can include interior decorations like signs, it can include teachers and staff, and it can include the exterior of the school. The look of the school sends a strong message to students and parents about whether the school fosters a positive environment. If it does not send a good message, bullying is more likely to occur.


6. Engage parents

Many people are involved in children’s lives. They all have an impact. When these people work together, the biggest difference can be made in a child’s life. Communication with parents about their child’s behavior—whether their child is a perpetrator of or on the receiving end of bullying behavior—can be tricky. Thus teachers and staff need to build rapport with the parents of their students.

Keeping parents informed about their child’s grades, friends, behavior, and even attitudes in school is an important tool when addressing behaviors. Working together, parents and teachers can provide a consistent approach to introduce more productive and appropriate replacement behaviors. This makes the message more likely to sink in and stick with the child. It can even help the child recognize when another child is being bullied or is a bully (US Department of Health and Human Services).

In urban areas, some parents may have had a difficult time with schools in the past and may sense a lack of connection and trust in school staff. Staff should show parents how their school has changed or is changing, and that every student is given an opportunity to succeed. You can convey this message by sending invitations for different events or by having the parents play a specific and active role in their child’s life (Mahoney, 2012). To help engage hard-to-reach parents, look for meaningful motivators to draw them into the discussion.


7. Look for warning signs

When bullying is occurring, there may be warning signs. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you constantly breaking up the same kids?
  • Do you get to the bottom of what goes on?
  • Have there been changes in the kids’ attitudes?

When a kid is being bullied, they can show many different signs that indicate that bullying is occurring. Teachers may not witness every incident, but that’s why it’s necessary to involve other students, as well as parents. Does the child have:

  • Unexplainable injuries?
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches?
  • Changes in eating habits?
  • Difficulty sleeping?
  • Declining grades?
  • Loss of interest in school?
  • Loss of friends?
  • Lost or destroyed personal items?
  • Decreased self-esteem?

Does the child avoid social situations or talk of harming themselves (US Department of Health and Human Services)? These are only a few of the warning signs that indicate that a child is being bullied. Kids rarely show all the same signs.

There are also signs that one student is bullying another:

  • Does the student get into a lot of fights or have friends that bully others?
  • Is the student increasingly aggressive or sent to the principal’s office frequently?
  • Does the student have new belongings, blame others for their problems, refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, or worry about their popularity and reputation (US Department of Health and Human Services)?

These are only a few signs that indicate that a kid is engaging in bullying behavior. In order to fully understand what’s going on, you must communicate and work with their parents.


8. When bullying occurs, clear the scene

Most of the time, teachers and staff break up incidents as they occur. It’s important to separate the students involved so you can gather the facts. This allows the school to fix the situation while preventing it from occurring again.

Remember that there are often bystanders, and bystanders frequently encourage and reinforce bullies (Mahoney, 2012). It’s often easier to first remove the bystanders and then to deal with the kid who’s bullying and the kid who’s being bullied.

Once the crowd is split up, get the facts. Interview the bystanders. When you listen, show empathy. You don’t know all of the circumstances. Remember to be nonjudgmental. That’s how you find out what’s going on. Get the story from several sources, including the aggressor, the target, and some bystanders (US Department of Health and Human Services).

Bullying will rarely end right away. Be persistent and consistent about stopping it, follow through with consequences, and follow up with the students after incidents (US Department of Health and Human Services). Show the kids that you really care, and you could become their trusted adult.


9. Monitor hot spots

There are certain places where bullying occurs the most, and these tend to be areas where adults are not likely to often be present — areas like hallways, bathrooms, playgrounds, and busses. When an adult is present, kids feel safer, and bullying behaviors are less likely to occur. It’s important for adults to be alert and to give their full attention when multiple students are present.

Statistics show that 47.2% of bullying occurs in a hallway or stairwell and 33.6% of bullying happens in the classroom (Mahoney, 2012). 20% of bullying situations occur on school grounds, on playgrounds, on school buss es, when kids are walking to and from school, and in lunchrooms, gyms, and cyberspace (Mahoney, 2012). One way to stop behaviors is to have open communication. All staff must work together to keep these spots monitored.


10. Know your state laws and district policies

The US government also aims to ensure that students have the safest environments possible. That’s why 49 out of 50 states currently have bullying laws in place (Bully Police USA, 2012). All staff should be familiar with their state laws and regulations regarding bullying. They should also know what their school district’s policy is and whether it follows the state law.

The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention (2011) suggests that you find your law, find your district policy, match the law and the policy, educate district leadership on legal responsibilities, and ensure that your policy is being implemented properly. Train staff, educate parents, and ensure that the whole district is consistent when enforcing its policy (US Department of Health and Human Services). This allows everyone to be on the same page and helps students feel safe.

Bullying can be reduced. These tips will help decrease and prevent bullying in your school, and they’ll help you ensure that your students thrive in a safe and caring environment in which they’re free to learn and grow.

For more on reducing and stopping bullying, check out 31 Bullying Prevention Difference Makers.

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