What is a Bully?

A bully can be categorized as someone that displays a particular type of aggression that (1) is intended to do harm (physical or emotional), (2) is perpetuated over a period of time, and (3) creates an imbalance of power situation, where a more powerful person or group is attacking a less powerful one. A bully is often known as a cruel, brutal, browbeater, strong-arm, or intimidator.

Startling Bully Statistics:

  • Nearly 1/3 of students surveyed report they experience bullying, either as a target or as a perpetrator.
  • More than 16% said they had been bullied at least occasionally during the current school year.
  • 8% reported bullying or being bullied at least once a week.
  • The frequency of bullying was higher among 6th- through 8th- grade students than among 9th- and 10th- grade students.
  • Children that reported they were bullied reported more loneliness and difficulty making friends
  • Those that did the bullying were morel likely to have low grades and to smoke and drink alcohol.

Source: “Bullying Behavior Among US Youth: Prevalence and Association with Psychological Judgment” Journal of American Medical Association, April 25, 2001

Why is bully prevention important?

Many American teenagers explain intimidation and physical abuse as just part of a typical school day. The most common reason that students are not more proactive against a bully or reporting a bully is that they simply do not know what to do. The reality is that most schools and parents are less than compassionate to the subject. Student’s daily encounters with intimidation and physical abuse are largely ignored with parents and schools offering little support. That is, if the parents or schools even know about the abuse that is taking place. Less than a third of bully victims report the behavior to someone at school. If a behavior is reported, some adults foster the attitude that “it is all a part of growing up” or that the victim is somehow “overly sensitive”. This and other similar ideas, such as “boys will be boys,” perpetuate the culture of bullying in our homes and schools. With this response from adults, many victims of bullies respond by either social isolation or plans for revenge for their intimidators. This reaction only continues the cycle of creating another bully. Prevention of bullying becomes crucial, as research has proved that victims of bullies have low self-esteem and greater incidents of depression, loneliness, and insecurity that can carry into adulthood. Chronic bullying can lead to negative feeling toward school, which leads to higher drop out rates. The bully themselves is also often a loser in this equation. A bully is more likely to produce poor grades, drop out of school, have lower incomes, and experience more problems with the law. Bully prevention is a necessary step that parents and educators need to take to provide a positive, safe, and successful learning environment for all students.

How can I prevent bullying?

All teachers and staff need to undergo bully training. This ensures that the adults are properly trained to recognize and prevent bully behavior in the classroom, in the halls, and on the school bus. All teachers and administrators on a school campus should develop a plan of action to respond to each bully in a consistent manner. Everyone on a school campus should know how to respond to a report of a bully, how respond to the bully, and how to respond to children that are the target of a bully. Children also need to be taught how to identify a bully, how to respond to a bully in an assertive, nonviolent approach, and how and when to report a bully to an adult.

Addressing a bully takes an entire community. Decreasing bullying in our schools creates positive and healthy relationships for students. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach children the skills they need to build healthy and respectful peer relationships. The best way to go about this is be educated and sensitive to the issue. Bullying is NOT a rite of passage, an undesirable, but sometimes unavoidable, part of growing up. Bullying is a serious public health issue that affects countless young people everyday.