Bullying is a serious problem. Approximately 30 percent of students report being a bully, being bullied, or both (Nansel et al., 2001). An extensive amount of information now is available concerning this behavior problem, including physical bullying, psychological bullying, and bullying in cyberspace (Berger, 2007). As a professional educator, you should be aware of what types of bullying occur, who is likely to be bullied, and what you can do to help.

What Is Bullying?

Bullies generally consider themselves bigger, stronger, more popular, or in some other way more powerful than their victims. Bullying can take several forms:

  • physical violence
  • verbal taunts, name-calling, put-downs
  • threats and intimidation
  • extortion or stealing money or possessions

Students who are bullied often are perceived as different for various reasons:

  • appearance (for example, overweight, clothing, presence of a disability)
  • intellect (too smart or not smart enough)
  • racial or ethnic heritage
  • socioeconomic background
  • cultural or religious background
  • sexual orientation

What Can Educators and Schools Do?

Teachers and other school professionals can help all students feel safe using strategies such as these:

  • Ensure that students understand what bullying means, what behaviors it includes, and how it makes people feel.
  • Develop and post class rules against bullying (for example, "Treat others as you would like to be treated").
  • Establish appropriate consequences for bullying (for example, student pays for damaged belongings, apologizes).
  • Encourage students to discuss bullying and positive ways to interact with others.
  • Discuss the dangers of online and other electronic interactions and the seriousness of bullying using that type of communication.
  • Take immediate action when bullying is witnessed or reported.
  • Administer a bullying survey to students.
  • Praise prosocial and helpful student behavior.
  • Pay close attention for bullying during recess and other unstructured times.
  • Take student reports of bullying seriously.
  • Involve parents in terms of sharing information and enlisting their assistance.
  • Interview bullies, victims, and witnesses separately.

Source: Adapted from "Bullying: What's New and What to Do" (electronic version), by J. Rosiak, 2004, Be Safe & Sound, 1(4), pp. 3-6. Copyright 2004 by the National Crime Prevention Council. Reprinted with permission.