Advice for dealing with school bullies

Ann MacDonald

Contributor, Harvard Health

Although adults sometimes dismiss it as a childhood rite of passage, bullying in school is now recognized as a form of aggression that may have long-lasting psychological ramifications — for both victims and perpetrators.

Most research on bullying has been done in Australia and Europe, where rates of frequent bullying range from 2% of youths in a sample in Ireland to 19% in a sample in Malta. A nationally representative study of 15,686 U.S. students, grades 6 through 10, reported that 9% of students bullied others at least once a week, while 8% were victimized that frequently.

How can schools and parents protect youngsters from bullying? I thought I’d share a few helpful online resources with more information:

About Bullying is a resource developed by SAMHSA (the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). This online resource features interactive games and quizzes for children and teens.

Adults and Children Together Against Violence has educational materials for teaching problem-solving skills to children up to age 8.

Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure is a project of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It provides a clinical guide and 21 handouts aimed at building resilience.

Exploring the Nature and Prevention of Bullying was developed by the U.S. Department of Education. It offers an online course about implementing bullying prevention programs in school.

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program offers advice on dealing with bullies, victims, and bystanders.


  1. Paul

    Forgive my cheek in posting this url, but I teach self defense from both physical and mental aspects, and do have an article aimed at adults with some very simple advice on diffusing an “alpha-male” type aggressor. This is the same kind of behavior that most bullies exert, so it may be applicable to children and teens facing bullying too. The main point is in diffusing the aggression, and the mindset of how a bully is trying to rationalize his behavior. You can read the full article here FYI:

    It’s kind of a 101. Hope it helps someone somehow.

  2. Lyn P

    What about teachers/instructors who bully in the name of “toughening” their students? Even on a college level some instructors can be punitive, aggressive, demeaning and even verbally abusive; publicly shouting and attacking a person rather than a problem. Why do some educators believe this method of instruction is effective? Is this ever appropriate and what can we do to change this mindset?

  3. Catherine Anne Walsh, Ph.D.

    May I also recommend these website resources:, The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is doing important work with many school districts throughout the USA, and their research in the USA is outstanding.

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