top of page



Bullying involves repeated acts of physical, emotional, or social behavior that are intentional, controlling, and
hurtful. Bullying is a learned behavior, evident as early as 2 years of age. Bullying can also occur through email,
Web sites, blogs, text messaging, digital video, and online chat rooms; this is called cyberbullying.
Bullying can be either direct or indirect. Direct bullying, which includes hitting, kicking, and making insults or
threats, usually is seen and felt readily. Indirect bullying, such as excluding someone from a group of friends or
spreading rumors, is more difficult to identify and remedy and should be considered different from direct
bullying. Boys are more typically engaged in direct bullying and girls in indirect bullying, but that is not always
the case. Be alert and consider the following:


Take Action Against Bullying

Bullying is defined by a power imbalance between the bully and the target.
• A bully’s power can be derived from physical size, strength, verbal skill, popularity, or gender.
• A bully’s target feels tormented, helpless, and defenseless.
• Bullying can include hitting, name-calling, threatening, intimidating, kicking, spreading rumors, teasing,
pushing, tripping, excluding someone from a group, or destroying someone’s things.



• Bullying interferes with learning in school and may lead to increased absenteeism and dropout rates.
• Students feel less safe and less satisfied in school when there are high levels of bullying.
• Bullying may be linked to other delinquents, criminal, and gang activities, such as shoplifting, drug abuse, and
• Youth bullies are more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults. Among adult males who had been
bullies during grades six through nine, about 60 percent had at least one criminal conviction, and over 35
percent had 3 or more convictions by age 24.
• Youth bullies may become a child and spouse abusers as adults.
• Bullying victims grow socially insecure and anxious, with decreased self-esteem and increased depression
rates even into adulthood.


If your child exhibits one or more of these warning signs, he/she may be a victim of bullying. Talk with
your child to explore further whether or not he/she is being bullied.


• Withdraws socially; has few or no friends.
• Feels isolated, alone, and sad.


Take Action Against Bullying


Feels picked on or persecuted.
• Feels rejected and not like.
• Frequently complains of illness.
• Doesn’t want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school.
• Brings home damaged possessions or reports them “lost.”
• Cries easily; displays mood swings and talks about hopelessness.
• Has poor social skills.
• Talks about running away; talks of suicide.
• Threatens violence to self and others.
• Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
• Takes, or attempts to take, “protection” to school (a stick, knife, gun, etc.).
• Displays “victim” body language—hangs head, hunches shoulders, avoids eye contact.
Children being bullied may show some of these signs or may show few.



DO make sure your child knows being bullied is not his or her fault.
• DO let your child know that he or she does not have to face being bullied alone.
• DO discuss ways of responding to bullies.
• DO teach your child to be assertive.


Take Action Against Bullying


DO tell your child not to react, but to walk away and get help if pursued.
• DO tell your child to report bullying immediately to a trusted adult.
• DO look at your own child’s behavior and style of interaction and consider how you might help him/her to handle these types of situations in the future.
• DO contact the school for assistance.



DON’T ask children to solve a bullying problem between themselves—because of the differences in power,
the child who has been bullied will suffer further. Bullying problems require adult intervention.
• DON’T advise the bullied child to fight the bully—fighting is in violation of the school conduct code and the
child might be seriously injured.
• DON’T try to mediate a bullying situation. Bringing together children who are bullied and those who do the bullying, to “work out” the problems between them, generally is not a good idea. It may further victimize a child who is being bullied and it sends the wrong message to both parties.
• DON’T focus blame on either the victim or the bully. Instead, gather as much information as possible.


• Seeks to dominate and/or manipulate others.
• Enjoys feeling powerful and in control (whether real or not).
• Is both a poor winner (boastful and arrogant) and a poor loser.
• Seems to derive satisfaction from others’ fear, discomfort, or pain.
• Is good at hiding behaviors or doing them where adults can’t notice.


Take Action Against Bullying

• Is excited by conflicts between others.
• Blames others for his/her problems.
• Displays uncontrolled anger.
• Has a history of discipline problems.
• Displays a pattern of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and aggressive behaviors.
• Has a history of violent and aggressive behaviors.
• Displays intolerance and prejudice towards others.
• May use drugs or alcohol or be a member of a gang.
• Lacks empathy for others.
For more information

Be sure that your child knows that bullying is NOT acceptable behavior.
• Tell your child the penalties for bullying and be sure that you enforce them fairly and consistently.
• Help your child learn alternative ways to deal with anger and frustration.
• Teach and reward more appropriate behavior.
• Work out a way for your child to make amends for the bullying.


Take Action Against Bullying


Help your child develop an understanding of the impact of his or her bullying on the target.
• Seek help or counseling if the behavior continues.
• If contacted by the school, STAY CALM; TRY NOT TO BECOME ANGRY AND DEFENSIVE! Make
yourself really listen. Remember, this is ultimately about the well-being of your child!


When developing and implementing bullying prevention programs, be sure to include the following
• Increase the awareness of everyone at school (students, staff, and parents) toward bullying problems.
• Assess the scope of the problem.
• Identify both the children who are bullying and the children who are being bullied.
• Intervene in a timely manner with clear and consistent consequences for the child who is bullying and
with support and protection for the child who is being bullied.
• Encourage bystanders to intervene appropriately to help stop bullying.
• Reward prosocial behavior of all students.


Bullying: NO WAY

Prevent your child from becoming a VICTIM:
• Instill self-confidence in your child.
• Help your child establish good social skills.
• Teach your child to speak out for himself or herself.


Take Action Against Bullying

Teach your child to seek help, if harassed, from you and other caring adults.
Prevent your child from becoming a BULLY:
• Present yourself as a model of nonviolent behavior.
• Clearly state that violence is not acceptable.
• Assist your child in finding nonviolent strategies for anger management and conflict resolution.
• Seek help from mental health/school counselors to help stop bullying and aggressive behavior.



Publisher: SAMHSA

bottom of page