Bullying is one type of youth violence that threatens young people's well-being. Bullying can result in physical injuries, social and emotional difficulties, and academic problems. The harmful effects of bullying are frequently felt by others, including friends and families, and can hurt the overall health and safety of schools, neighborhoods, and society.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. A young person can be a perpetrator, a victim, or both (also known as "bully/victim").
Bullying can occur in-person and through technology. Electronic aggression or cyber-bullying is bullying that happens through email, chat rooms, instant message, a website, text message, or social media.2
The CDC works to understand and prevent bullying before it starts. Research is still developing and helps us to better understand and prevent bullying. School-based bullying prevention programs are widely implemented but not always evaluated. However, research suggests promising program elements include:3
- Improving supervision of students
- Using school rules and behavior management techniques in the classroom and throughout the school to detect and address bullying by providing consequences for bullying
- Having a whole school anti-bullying policy, and enforcing that policy consistently
- Promoting cooperation among different professionals and between school staff and parents
The following resources provide additional information on bullying, electronic aggression, youth violence prevention, and safe schools.