Table of Contents
Subject Index  
Related Links
About the Authors
Submit Comments
0-01: An inclusive, respectful school climate
2-07: Learning social skills
3-09: Physical education and safety curriculum
4-08: Child abuse reporting system
7-01: Healthy and safe social environment
  > View All Chapter Guidelines  
Center for Mental Health in Schools.
Resources, technical assistance, and continuing education on topics related to mental health in schools, with a focus on barriers to learning and promotion of healthy development.
Center for School Mental Health Assistance
Supports schools and communities in the development of programs and provides leadership and technical assistance to advance effective interdisciplinary school-based mental health programs.
Colorado Anti-Bullying Project
Part of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Provides information for teachers, parents, and students to prevent bullying, including resources, links, and a bullying quiz.
Keep Schools Safe
Information on violence and unintentional injury prevention in schools.
National Educational Service
For educators and other youth professionals to help foster environments where all youth succeed.
National Resource Center for Safe Schools
US Department of Education
  > View All Chapter Related Links  
7-07 - Actions against bullying

Establish and enforce policies that prohibit bullying, hazing, teasing, harassment, and discrimination.


Bullying, hazing, and discrimination are often precursors to escalated violent behavior and associated with psychosomatic problems and future psychiatric problems in certain persons. Prevention of bullying and discrimination provides for a more conducive learning environment for students and a safer environment for all.


Bullying is the repeated and deliberate use of aggression and power to cause physical pain and/or emotional distress. Bullying can be verbal, physical, unpleasant gestures, social coercion, social exclusion, or any combination of these. Although in most bullying situations at school, students are in the roles of bullies and victims, staff members can be bullies and victims of bullying as well. Physical appearance (including facial and dental appearance, obesity, short stature and racial characteristics), perceived sexual orientation, having a homosexual parent, and stuttering have been shown to be associated with victimization. Harassment of those with disabilities, including developmental delay, attention deficit disorders, and conduct disorders, and gender-based harassment (eg, sexual remarks) are not uncommon. Some approaches to dealing with bullying at school have shown promise. They deal with the victim and the bully as individuals as well as with system-wide programs. Internet resources listed below provide some useful strategies.

Have clearly understood, well-publicized, and universally enforced rules about bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Supervision is critically important as most bullying takes place when usual supervision is at its lowest. Identify high risk areas and particular times of the day when bullying is likely to occur. Spot checks can help deal with difficult staffing issues. When bullying occurs, aggressive and angry punishments may be ineffective responses. Instead, defuse the situation by immediately removing the victim and bully from the scene. Consider a policy whereby the bully must make amends for the distress that has been caused, perhaps through an apology (eg, public, face-to-face, written, a gift given to victim by the bully). Link the bully and the victim to social and health professional staff at school. Underlying emotional, mental health and social stresses may contribute to being a bully or a victim. Initiate assessment of such factors and follow this by referring students for further assessment and/or management, as necessary. Teaching victims new reaction skills (ie, demonstrating indifference, not being counter-aggressive and learning how to avoid an appearance of being helpless) may be helpful.

Consider programs that redirect aggressive behaviors of all students towards other activities. Sports and competitive games are examples. Alternatively activities that are incompatible with aggression, such as caring for plants or people, may also be tried. As empathetic support that victims receive from peers is as important as support received from adults, consider educating all students about peer support. Teach students to mentor, befriend and advocate for their bullied peers through group discussion, videos, drama, and role-play. Bystanders have the power to modify a bullying situation if they become active, rather than passive. This can generate skills, interest and willingness among students to intervene when bullying and harassment occur.


Drug Strategies. Safe Schools, Safe Students: A Guide to Violence Prevention Strategies. Washington DC: Drug Strategies; 1998.

Garrity C, Jens K, Porter W, Sager N, Short-Cammilli C. Bully Proofing Your School: A Comprehensive Approach for Elementary Schools. 2nd ed. Longmont, CO: Sopris West; 2000.

Nansel TR, Overpeck M, Pilla RS, Ruan WJ, Simons-Morton B, Scheidt P. Bullying behaviors among US youth: prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA. 2001;285:2094-2100.

Newman DA, Horne AM, Bartolomucci CL. Bully Busters. A Teacher's Manual for Helping Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders. Champaign, IL: Research Press; 2000.

Olweus D. Bullying at school: basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1994 Oct;35(7):1171-90.

Pearce JB, Thompson AE. Practical approaches to reduce the impact of bullying. Arch Dis Child. 1998;79:528-531.

Schmidt T. Building Trust, Making Friends. Minneapolis, MN: Johnson Institute; 1996.

Spivak H, Prothrow-Stith D. The need to address bullying: an important component of violence prevention (editorial). JAMA. 2001; 285(16):2131-2.

Twemlow, SW, Fonagy P, Sacco FC, Gies ML, Evans R, Ewbank R. Creating a peaceful school learning environment: a controlled study of an elementary school intervention to reduce violence. Am J Psychiatry. 2001; 158:808-810.

Site Map | Contact Us | Privacy Statement | About Us | Home
American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007, 847-434-4000