Current Trends and Promising Practices in Bullying Prevention

Understanding the scope of the problem has challenged educators because:

  • Most bullying goes unreported. Many students don’t tell school staff for fear of making the situation worse or being viewed as a “snitch.” Studies show that about 57 percent of bullying incidents are left unreported,[vii] and underreporting rises with increases in grade level in elementary and middle school students.
  • Bullying is often unwitnessed. Bullying most often happens out of the view of teachers and other faculty, or otherwise is in a form not easily seen (e.g., cyberbullying).

The adverse consequences of bullying impact not only the victims, but the bullies themselves, bystanders, and all other stakeholders. Most experts agree that schools will not be able to punish their way out of bullying. Exclusionary discipline is viewed as an ineffective response to the issue and may even have unintended effects.[viii] While the issue requires policies and practices that are sensitive to the local context of the students, school, and community, there are some common approaches that show promise:

  • Schools with stronger climate and culture have lower rates of bullying.
  • Gains in social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and competencies relate to lower rates of bullying.
  • Bullying is related to social status among peers. Some promising interventions target peers and bystanders to influence group behaviors and reduce bullying.

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