Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is Bullying?

A: Bullying is unfair and one-sided. It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose.

  • Bullying may consist of hitting, teasing, taunting, spreading rumors and gossip, stealing, or excluding someone from a group.
  • Bullying is carried out with the intent to harm someone.
  • Bullying is often a repeated activity. However, bullying may also occur as a one-time event.
  • Bullying always involves a power imbalance. The person bullying has more power due to such factors as age, size, strength, or support of friends, and uses this power in a deliberately hurtful way.


Q: Who Bullies?

A: People sometimes assume that only boys bully, but girls also bully. Boys, tend to use methods such as hitting, fighting; face-to-face behaviors that are easy to observe. Girls bully using physical and verbal attacks, but they often use behind-the-back methods including getting peers to exclude others and spreading rumors and gossip. It's important to remember, though, that girls and boys use both face-to-face and behind-the-back bullying methods.


Q: What are the Consequences of Bullying?

A: Bullying jeopardizes children's safety and can create both short- and long-term problems for all children involved.

Children who are bullied are more likely to develop future academic problems and psychological difficulties; serious problems such as depression and low self-esteem can result, and they can continue into adulthood.

Children who bully and continue the behavior as adults have greater difficulty developing and maintaining positive relationships. Research shows that children who regularly bully others may grow up to become perpetrators of domestic violence, child abuse, hate crimes, sexual abuse, and other illegal behavior.


Q: How many children does bullying really affect?

A: 10-20% or 5.6 million of U.S. school children are the targets of chronic bullying.

Although it is true that some children will never be bullied, research shows that children witness 85 percent of school bullying incidents.

Child witnesses, or bystanders, may feel powerless to stop bullying, may fear being bullied next and may feel sad or guilty about the abuse others experience.


Q: Isn't bullying just a normal part of growing up?

A: The myths about bullying include the notion that bullying is a harmless childhood activity and a normal part of growing up. Confusion about the difference between conflict and bullying can fuel this myth. While occasional peer conflict is inevitable, bullying is not inevitable. It should always be avoided. In a conflict, both sides have equal power to resolve the problem. But bullying involves the intentional, one-sided use of power to control another.


Q: Wouldn't my child tell me about being bullied?

A: Children may not always tell adults - not even their parents - about being bullied at school. Studies show that children don't tell because they believe adults won't help stop the bullying, think that they should be able to solve their own problems, and sometimes may not even recognize that they are being bullied. Other children are afraid; they think that telling an adult will result in worse treatment from the child doing the bullying.

Watch your child for the following signs. Anyone of them could indicate that she is being bullied:

  • Fear of riding the school bus
  • Cuts or bruises, damaged clothing or belongings
  • Frequently "lost" lunch money
  • Frequent requests to stay home from school or unexplained minor illnesses
  • Sleeplessness or nightmares
  • Depression or lack of enthusiasm for hobbies or friends
  • Declining school performance


Q: Could my child be bullying others?

A: A child who bullies others may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Frequent name-calling (for example, describing others as "wimps" or "dummies")
  • A constant need to get his/her own way
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A defiant or hostile attitude


Q: What can I do if my child is bullied?

A: Help your child learn and practice how to handle a bullying incident. Explain to your child that people who bully are hoping to get certain reactions. When the child being bullied responds with an assertive response, such as "Stop! That's bullying!" the child doing the bullying may lose interest. Additional ideas for helping your child cope with bullying include:

  • Assuring your child that she is not to blame.
  • Instructing your child not to fight back. Physical injuries are often the result.
  • Advising your child to report all bullying incidents to an adult at school or a parent.
  • Role-playing friendship skills with your child. For example, helping him practice making conversation, joining a group activity, and being assertive


Q: What is Cyberbullying?

A: Cyberbullying is a modern twist on traditional bullying. Cyberbullying is defined as use of the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt, embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate another person. It can be done anonymously, which makes it easy for one youth to hurt another and not be held accountable or see the impact of his or her actions. Since the use of this technology reaches a wider audience than just the person who is targeted, its effects can be devastating.


Q: How are teens cyberbullied?

A: Being a target of cyberbullying can be a common and painful experience. Some youth who cyberbully pretend they are other people online to trick others; they might spread lies and rumors about their victim, trick people into revealing personal information, send or forward mean text messages or post pictures of targets without their consent. Some young people have discovered sites where they can create a free Web page and use it to bully another youth. Some young people also post mean comments on legitimate Web sites' guest books or post blogs.