Bullying: It's Not OK

While bullying has received increased media attention, there are still many misperceptions of this problem and its solutions.

  • Bullying is different than fighting or teasing. It is repetitive, negative actions by one person or persons against chosen victims.
  • There are 3 groups of children involved: bullies, victims, and bystanders.
Bullying prevention is a highly researched and well-proven area of violence prevention. The social dynamics of bullying are similar in most settings - bullies begin the school year by picking on a large number of children. Those children whose emotional responses gratify the bullies become the chosen victims for the year. Victims are smaller and weaker (boys) or more socially isolated (girls) than the bullies. Since harassment rarely occurs overtly in the classroom, teachers may be slow to recognize the dynamics of bullying or to prevent it. Thus, parents should be counseled to discuss bullying prevention with school guidance counselors or administrators. While victims may be more likely to seek medical attention, long-term studies demonstrate that the poorest outcomes are among bullies themselves. Children labeled by their peers as aggressors or bullies at age 8 are more likely to end up incarcerated and are less likely to be steadily employed and in stable long-term romantic relationships by the time they reach age 30. Consequently, bullying prevention programs have a long-term benefit for both bullies and victims.

How to Use This Tool

  • Since parents and children are concerned about bullying, leave this brochure in the waiting room.
    Ask the parents, "Is your child picked on in school?" When you discover a child is being picked on, discuss the specific strategies with parents. Parents should be advised to discuss bullying with the school guidance counselor and/or principal.
  • This brochure is particularly useful as a handout for school and community groups.
Helpful Hints

  • When faced with a child who has an unusual new onset of school phobia or attention problems, gently probe about being picked on or teased before, during, or after school. This child may have difficulty focusing on class work, be reluctant to attend school, or have a variety of psychosomatic conditions.
  • Victims often internalize the criticism of bullies and feel that they deserve the teasing and may be ashamed.
  • When the school has alerted parents that their child is aggressive or a bully, insist that the child receive counseling and that the parents take the issue seriously.
When giving this brochure to their parents, note that bullies, especially male bullies, are at a high risk for poor long-term outcomes unless the bullying is stopped at a young age.

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