Preventing School Bullying

The following posting appears in my latest book, “The Dropout Prevention Fieldbook”.  I am indebted to the Alberta Canada Resource Centre for Quality for doing the research and providing it on line.


 A definition for children:

Bullying is when people are mean to someone or hurt them on purpose.  This also happens over and over again in a way that this person doesn’t like.  (Source:  Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement; 2005)

Did you know?

  • Bullying occurs on average every seven minutes
  • Each bullying episode lasts about 17 seconds
  • One in seven boys (14%) between 4 and 11 years of age bully others, one in 20 (5%) are children who are bullied
  • One in 11 girls (9%) between 4 and 11 years of age bully others, one in 14 (7%) are children who are bullied
  • Among boys, bullying is usually physical and involves hitting
  • Among girls, bullying is more subtle and includes gossiping, or exclusion from certain groups
  • The majority of bullying happens on or close to school buildings
  • Bullies often target children who are alone
  • Bullying usually stops when it is reported and acted upon
  • The emotional scars from bullying can last a lifetime
  • 60% of kids who are identified as bullies by the age of 8 will have a criminal conviction by the age of 245
  • Children who are bullied are usually too scared to ask for adult help.
  • 85% of bullying takes place in the presence of others.

Source:  Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2005)


Myths about Bullying

Myth #1:         Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt me.

Reality:           Scars left by name-calling can last a lifetime.

Myth #2          Children have to learn to stand up for themselves.

Reality:           Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying they cannot cope with the situation on their own.  Treat their complaints as a call for help.  In addition, it is important to provide children with problem solving techniques and assertiveness training to deal with difficult situations.

Myth #3          Children should hit back – only harder.

Reality:           This could cause serious harm.  People who are bullies are often bigger and more powerful than their victims.  This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems.  Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression.  Adults have the power to lead by positive example.

Myth #4          It builds character.

Reality:           Children who are bullied repeatedly have low self-esteem and do not trust others.

Myth #5          That is not bullying.  They are just teasing.

Reality:           Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.

Myths #6        There have always been bullies and there always will be.

Reality:           By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to build a better future for our children. It takes time to change a culture and we need to work together to change attitudes about bullying.

Myth #7          Kids will be kids.

Reality:           Bullying is a learned behavior.  That is why it is important we change attitudes toward violence.



There are 4 common types of bullying:

Verbal Bullying:        Name calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumors, threatening, making references to ones culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted comments.

Social Bullying:        Mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others, gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.

Physical bullying:     Hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying, unwanted sexual touching.

Cyber Bullying          Using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate put down or spread rumors about someone.



(for parents and teachers) OF BULLYING?

  • Withdrawal from family and school activities
  • Shyness
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Sleeping to much
  • Being exhausted
  • Nightmares
  • Social isolation
  • Negative view of self
  • Increasing difficulty with school achievement
  • Giving excuses not to go to school

If bullying is not stopped, it also may hurt bystander, as they may feel that they may be the next victim.  Even if they feel badly for the person being bullied, they do not get involved in order to protect themselves or because they do not know what to do.


In the long run, children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so as they experience a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment or criminal life.

Bullying effects learning because it causes stress and anxiety and makes it ore difficult for kids to concentrate and focus on learning.

Source:   (Heart of the Matter, Alberta Education, 2005)


They can teach students what to do:

  • Be proud
  • Speak to bully in a calm and assertive tone
  • Tell the person who is bullying you to stop
  • Walk away
  • Ask a friend to help you
  • Make sure you are part of a group
  • Ask adults for help and keep asking until you get it.  Keep them informed.
  • Avoid unsafe situations and identify a safe place you can go to if you are being bullied.
  • Realize that it not worth getting hurt to save your possessions.