Learn More About Bullying with Our Bullying Fact Sheet

History –Norwegian Dan Olweus authored the first major prevention program after three children committed suicide as a result of bullying. His program ideas have influenced almost everyone. (The Freud of Bullying)

Definition of Bullying –An intentional aggressive act by a stronger peer or group of peers towards a weaker peer carried out repeatedly over a period of time. Typically, the weaker peer cannot defend him/herself.

Prevalence –Typically, up to a quarter of children in a primary and intermediate school setting are subject to bullying experience either as a bully or as a victim. The lowest rates are in England and Scandinavia where programs have been in place longest. Canada runs at over 25% in most studies.

Types of bullying:

  • Physical aggression (in person)
  • Verbal attacks (in person)
  • Indirect (having someone else bully the person)
  • Relational (setting up peers against the victim)
  • Cyberbullying (from calls to Facebook attacks that may be personal or anonymous) can be done from home when there is less supervision and without access.

***Girls use more indirect forms of bullying and are therefore harder to confront whereas boys use physicality, are more visible and, therefore, are easier to intervene with.

***Stable victim or bullying roles are developed by ages 8 to 9 years

***Bullies will often use more than one type of behavior to bully victims.

Bully Characteristics: More Externalisers and Prestige Seeking (Lower overall pathology)

  • Poor academic skills
  • Lack empathy
  • Perceive threats easily
  • See aggression as a problem solver
  • Later – more substance abuse and criminality
  • Later – less popular
  • Home – less competent parents, poor role models
  • May be physically larger

Victim Characteristics – More Internalisers and Accommodation Seekers (Greater overall pathology)

  • Tend to be physically smaller
  • Tend to anxiety, fearfulness, and insecurity
  • Prone to dropping out of school
  • Depression an issue


  • 10% is seen
  • Of what is seen 10% is reported
  • Seriousness is underestimated
  • Impact of interventions by teachers is significantly overestimated

More Positive Effects of Programs

  • Social competence
  • Self esteem
  • Peer acceptance
  • Better teacher understanding and skills

Less Important Positive Effects of Programs

  • Actual reduction of bullying instances
  • To note that England and the Scandinavian countries have had anti-bullying programs for the longest time and their rates are the lowest in the western world.

Types of Programs

  • Whole School Programs – policies and approaches for the school – the first to be developed and the most studied, it varies in terms of effectiveness but school investment is a prime determinant of effectiveness it seems.
  • Classroom Climate – teacher student relationship – teacher led social structure. Good results.
  • Peer supported systems such as Peer Helper programs – friendship circles etc. seem to be contingent on good teacher supervision
  • School Tribunals – students are elected to hear evidence and pass judgment. Canada and England – school with high bullying rates saw them fall.
  • Playground design and increased supervision – surprisingly effective
  • Curriculum Work - learning
  • Working with Specific Pupils – empathy training is not well supported – problem solving approach is supported.
  • Community Conferencing (Australia) seems well supported and is our preferred approach.

Programs to Avoid

  • To place delinquent kids together for a program

Important Studies

  • Norway studies are among the most innovative:
  • Seville Study – Democratic Management of Interpersonal Relationships – cooperative group work – Curriculum Training Modules for emotions and empathy – Direct Interventions with Cases – probably among the most successful.

Key Factors For Success –

  • Length of sustained effort
  • Intensity of the school’s attention and effort
  • Primary schools may be better environments for this kind of intervention
  • Girls are more receptive to anti-bullying information

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