October 2019

Rethinking Bullying Prevention

From the Director of the Center for Safe Schools

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the quarterly newsletter for the NSBA Center for Safe Schools, a benefit of your subscription. Each issue will feature one of our focus areas: infrastructure, crisis and emergency management, whole child health, or cyber security. This issue’s focus is whole child health, and we’re examining the subject of bullying.

October is Bullying Prevention Month. Despite the enormous body of research on bullying among children, we often lack a common understanding of what it means. The Oxford Dictionary defines bullying as seeking to harm, intimidate, or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines it as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.

Bullying is often confused with conflict. The less clear we are on the differences between these terms the harder it becomes to target our efforts. It’s essential that we understand why students are more likely to engage in bullying behavior or to be bullied, so we can better use our resources to have the most impact.

We hope the articles and resources in this issue help you deepen your understanding of bullying and its prevention. Please reach out with any questions or comments using the online discussion group to engage other subscribers from around the country or via Also, visit NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools for new and unique resources and discussions. Future issues of this newsletter will be published in January, April, and July.

Thank you for your continued interest and commitment to helping foster safe schools for all our students and district employees.

Adam Lustig
Director, NSBA Center for Safe Schools


February 2022
Returning Stronger: Student Reengagement Through and Beyond the Pandemic

May 2021
Supporting the Mental Health of Students and Staff Through the Pandemic and Beyond

January 2021
Rethinking The Role of The School Resource Officer

October 2020
The Value of Sports and Performance Programs: Understanding the Benefits and Prioritizing Programs Through a Pandemic

July 2020
Prevention and Intervention: An Understanding of Behavioral Threat Assessments

May 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

January 2020
Cybersecurity: Understanding the Threats and Risks

October 2019
Rethinking Bullying Prevention

Featured Articles

A lady with two children smiling

A Whole Child Approach to Understanding Bullying and Bullying Prevention

By Suzanne Greenfield

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and that means students across the country will file into school assemblies and be told why it is important to be kind and tolerant and why they should not be a bully. It is well meaning. But it does not work.

Read More

Child sitting on the ground with his arms around his legs and head down

Children Who Bully and Victims of Bullying: Two sides of the Same Coin

By Melissa Sadin

Children who bully and the victims of bullying are children who are two sides of the same coin. Children who have experienced trauma or who have been separated from their biological parent may have fragile attachment.

Read More

National Statistics

Been Bullied

  • The 2017 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, nationwide, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
  • The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Bullied Others

  • Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.

Seen Bullying

  • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
  • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.

Been Cyberbullied

  • The 2017 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text.
  • The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

How Often Bullied

  • In one large study, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, whereas 30.8% reported bullying others during that time.
  • Defining "frequent" involvement in bullying as occurring two or more times within the past month, 40.6% of students reported some type of frequent involvement in bullying, with 23.2% being the youth frequently bullied, 8.0% being the youth who frequently bullied others, and 9.4% playing both roles frequently.

Types of Bullying

  • The most common types of bullying are verbal and social. Physical bullying happens less often. Cyberbullying happens the least frequently.
  • According to one large study, the following percentages of middle schools students had experienced these various types of bullying: name calling (44.2 %); teasing (43.3 %); spreading rumors or lies (36.3%); pushing or shoving (32.4%); hitting, slapping, or kicking (29.2%); leaving out (28.5%); threatening (27.4%); stealing belongings (27.3%); sexual comments or gestures (23.7%); email or blogging (9.9%).

Where Bullying Occurs

  • Most bullying takes place in school, outside on school grounds, and on the school bus. Bullying also happens wherever kids gather in the community. And of course, cyberbullying occurs on cell phones and online.
  • According to one large study, the following percentages of middle schools students had experienced bullying in these various places at school: classroom (29.3%); hallway or lockers (29.0%); cafeteria (23.4%); gym or PE class (19.5%); bathroom (12.2%); playground or recess (6.2%).

How Often Adult Notified

  • Only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.

This information comes from the federal government website,