Bullying goes beyond occasional teasing. It’s widespread and is negatively impacting America’s youth.
Wherever adolescents gather—in school, sports, or other settings—bullying is common.
Bullying once was thought of as “just part of growing up.” It is now seen, rightfully, as harmful misconduct that can have long-lasting negative impacts on everyone involved.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport’s new “Prevent Bullying in Sport” webpage includes our “Bullying 101” toolkit, downloadable flyers, and more resources for parents, coaches, and others who work with young people.
We may think we have an idea of what bullying is: the one-time shove in the hallway or “all-in-good-fun” teasing at practice. It’s more than that.
What is Bullying?
“Bullying is hurt or harm that is unwanted and usually repeated,” says Judy French, coordinator of the National Bullying Prevention Center. “The target of this hurt or harm usually can’t stop it because they don’t have the same amount of (social or physical) power as the person or group doing the bullying.”
Here’s what bullying can look like:
- Repeatedly and intentionally ignoring and socially excluding someone
- Spreading emotionally damaging rumors about someone online
- Threatening violence or physically intimidating someone until they quit the team
- Consistently hitting someone and then ridiculing them in front of their teammates
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers bullying a form of youth violence and an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).
A Widespread Issue
According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied at school in the last year. That number nearly doubles for LGBTQ+ students. One in 6 students have been cyberbullied.
Youth who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and other harmful effects.
Youth who bully have higher incidences of substance abuse, academic problems, and experiences of violence later in life. Those who witness bullying behavior as a bystander also can have negative outcomes.
What to Look For
Because bullying usually involves a social or physical power difference, it’s difficult to stop without adult or peer intervention. And kids may not own up to being bullied due to feelings of shame. Parents and other adults can look for red flags and engage when a child:
- Shows signs of depression
- Stops wanting to do things they enjoy
- Experiences a sudden drop in grades
- Loses their desire to go to school