Bullying is classically described as seeking to harm, intimidate or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable. One out of every five students between 12 and 18 years of age report being bullied either by traditional taunting (tripped, shoved, teasing, rumors) or by cyberbullying (pictures, videos or rumors through social media). The advent of social media has provided greater access to these alternate forms of bullying. Research indicates that bullying starts in elementary school, reaches its peak in middle school, and continues, albeit less frequently, into high school. Bullying results in both physical and emotional harm. Though emotional harm is not evident to the observer, it is just as painful.
It is imperative to combat bullying at the school-aged level, as the outcomes for youth, both those doing the bullying and those being bullied, are profoundly affected. Those who are bullied may suffer from depression, may lose interest in school, may become suicidal or homicidal. Those who bully are more likely to drop out of school, misuse alcohol and/or other drugs, and break the law.
Bullying is most common in schools in which there is limited supervision, however it can occur at any school. Also, it can occur outside of school, in the home and in the community. It can affect people of any age, race/ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual orientation and gender. It is imperative to pay attention and take action, for example, tell a parent or trusted adult, and support anti-bullying campaigns and education around inclusivity, equality, kindness and respect. Those who are being bullied need to be well supported and protected. Helping students find supportive and inclusive activities outside of the environment in which bullying is occuring. Obtaining professional support for negative emotional responses that have developed as a result to bullying is valuable.