National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week is Oct. 21-27
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
October 17, 2007
Nearly 30 percent of U.S. school children will be bullied
or bully other children this year. According to Melissa Holt,
research assistant professor with the UNH Crimes Against Children
Research Center, bullying is a major problem facing the United
States that tends to peak in middle school and decline throughout
National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week is Oct. 21-27.
“A child who stops engaging as much academically, is
missing school (saying he/she doesn't feel well), and appears
withdrawn/depressed might be a victim of bullying,” Holt
Students who are bullied are repeatedly victimized over an
extended period of time. The bullying, which can be perpetrated
by one or more students, can be physical or verbal. Whereas
boys are more likely to be involved in physical bullying, girls
are at higher risk for relational bullying (gossip and rumor-spreading).
Both sexes can be victims of “derogatory speculation” regarding
“Our current research is showing that both victims and
bullies are often involved in other forms of victimization
outside the school, such as within the family and community.
This is an important piece to consider when designing and implementing
prevention programs, or in individual counseling with youth,” Holt
Certain students are more susceptible to becoming victims
of bullying. Students who are obese, enrolled in remedial education,
have developmental disabilities, and are insecure and anxious
are more at risk. In general boys experience more physical
bullying victimization, and girls are more likely to be targets
of indirect victimization, such as being excluded by social
Often these victims experience adverse psychological effects
and poor school adjustment. They are more lonely and depressed,
tend to avoid going to school and have thoughts of suicide.
“For some youth there are long-term effects from their
involvement in bullying episodes either as victims or bullies,” Holt
Researchers have found that by age 23, individuals who had
been chronically victimized in their youth had lower self-esteem
and were more depressed than those who had not been victimized.
Similarly, long-term outcomes for bullies also can be serious;
compared to their peers, bullies are more likely to be convicted
of crimes in adulthood. In addition, a study conducted in the
United States revealed that youth identified as bullies in
school had a 1-in-4 chance of having a criminal record by age
“Bullying affects the entire school, and not just the
students involved in the particular acts. Thus it is necessary
that everyone become knowledgeable about bullying and work
to dispel the climate of fear and intimidation,” Holt
says. She offers the following suggestions for dealing with
Tell someone – school staff, parents, other trusted adults – about
the bullying. Often children are afraid to talk to an adult
because they fear retaliation or being viewed as a tattler.
• Take a friend, or group of friends, along when speaking
to a trusted adult. This approach creates a community of support
and provides a model for how to address these issues.
• If students feel comfortable and safe, speak up when
a peer is being bullied.
• Treat peers with respect.
Model respectful interactions.
• Talk with your child and create a space in which they
feel safe to discuss their fears.
• Be aware of warning signs of bullying and talk to
your child about what is going on.
• Know your children’s friends.
• Take time to connect with your children.
• If your child is being bullied, alert school officials
and help your child get assistance. NEVER tell your child to
ignore the bullying as this can increase the seriousness of
• Expect the bullying to stop. By setting a high standard,
parents are demanding that change and consequences occur. They
are also empowering the child to take action and shed the victim
For Teachers/School Staff
Create a school climate that does not tolerate bullying.
• Oftentimes instances of bullying include a large audience
of students and teachers. Include bystanders in discussions
about bullying and how to better intervene the next time.
• Target interventions on peer groups since those who
bully often have peers that encourage bullying.
• Respond quickly to bullying episodes. Most importantly,
let students involved in the bullying episode and bystanders
know that you do not condone this type of behavior.
• Develop classroom activities that include all students.
• Increase adult supervision at times that bullying
occurs most frequently, such as at recess and during lunch.
• Obtain training in how to recognize and respond to
• Integrate materials into the curriculum that address
• Model respectful interactions.
• Conduct student survey to determine the types and
extent of bullying within the school and use findings to inform
bullying prevention and intervention programs.
• Engage bullied students in designing policies to address
If a parent suspects his or her child is bullying other students,
Holt says it is critical that parents of bullies be clear that
they do not support the behavior. Not only should they contact
the school, but they should enforce rules regarding behavior
and get their child involved with positive social activities.
“Every child has unique strengths and qualities. Although
it’s easy to see the bully as ‘all bad,’ bullies
too have contributions to make. Helping a bully recognize their
potential for positive contributions and learning how to use
their power in healthy and meaningful ways, such as focusing
energy on hobbies or causes, will alleviate bullying problems
and the long-term consequences associated with bullying,” she