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Bullying: Why it Happens and How to Stop It

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — October 8, 2019 — 3 min read
We’ve probably all worried about a child we love getting bullied at school and how to prevent it, but what if you suspect your child is the bully?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While the problem has been improving, there’s still work to do. Approximately 20 percent of students ages 12 to 18 report having experienced some form of bullying, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice’s 2017 School Crime Supplement. About 15 percent were bullied online or by text, according to the same report.

Bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance,” according to stopbullying.gov. It’s not all about size either. Children who bully may use physical strength, but they also may use their popularity or access to embarrassing information to control or harm other kids. 

Actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose can be examples bullying. The mistreatment is often repeated over time with lasting negative effects on both the kids who are bullies and those who bully. 

Researchers have been studying the biological and environmental factors that may lead to a child becoming a bully in an effort to help all children and adolescents have healthier relationships, and to help eradicate bullying. 

There are two types of children who are more likely to bully others, according to stopbullying.gov. The first are well-connected to their peers, have social power and popularity, and enjoy dominating or being in charge of others. The second type is more isolated from peers and may be depressed or anxious, have low self-esteem, be less involved in school, be easily pressured by peers, or not identify with the emotions or feelings of others.

According to the researchers, some of the risk factors for becoming a bully are:
  • Being easily frustrated or aggressive with anger management issues
  • Having difficulty perceiving another person’s distress
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Less parental involvement, or issues at home
  • Early trauma that impaired social and emotional development
  • Peer pressure: having friends who bully others
To prevent or stop a child from bullying others, researchers say setting specific goals with the child and parents that include strategies for managing anger and aggression can help. They also say it’s best to foster an environment at school that helps children learn to accommodate each other’s differences.

Prevention and Awareness
Every October, schools and organizations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying™ in observing National Bullying Prevention Month. Also, the first Monday of every October (October 7 this year) is World Day of Bullying Prevention™. Wearing blue is one way to show support. 

Adults including parents, school staff and others can help prevent bullying, according to stopbullying.gov, by:
  • Helping children understand what bullying is, that it is wrong, and what to do if it happens
  • Talking to kids often, learning who their friends are and asking about school, concerns
  • Modeling kindness and respect
  • Encouraging kids to participate in activities that they love, which can help them make friends and be less likely to be bullied
STOMP Out Bullying™ suggests the following activities for kids who want to help stop bullying:
  • Make friends with someone you don’t know at school
  • Be a leader. Take action and don't let anyone at school be in isolation
  • Make kindness go viral by performing acts of kindness and challenging friends and classmates to do it, too 
For more information about bullying prevention, visit StopBullying.gov.
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