Kids & Family Health

Bullying Happens. Here's How to Stop It.

It’s unfortunate, but we have all experienced bullying at least once in our life or know someone who has. With every new generation, bullying continues, and only it’s gotten more complex.

Physical attacks have given way to cyberbullying which cause emotional trauma that can be spread to hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people. The new ways in which children and adolescents— and even adults — can be bullied, may be one of the reasons National Bullying Awareness Month is such a relatively new thing.


Bullying Awareness Month was started as a week-long awareness campaign by the Minnesota-based PACER Center, a resource for children with disabilities and their parents. In 2010, it became a month-long event designed to provide information to educators, students, families, and individuals about ways to stop bullying and promote acceptance and kindness.

For years bullying has been seen as a childhood “rite of passage.” The reality is it can be devastating, leaving emotional scars, diminished self-esteem, and long-term psychological damage.


Bullying by the Numbers

PACER has amassed a staggering collection of statistics about bullying that include frequency, bullying by gender, victims’ gender, age, location, type of bullying, etc. Some particularly striking numbers include: 

  • One of every five students report being bullied
  • 6% of male students report being physically bullied versus 4% of female students
  • 18% of female students report being subjects of rumors versus 9% of male students
  • 7% of female students report being excluded from activities versus 4% of male students
  • 41% of students who reported bullying at school think it will happen again
  • A slightly higher percentage of female students (24%) report being bullied at school compared to male students (17%)

Results of Bullying

Bullying is a threat to student health, safety, and well-being. It also affects a student’s ability to learn and succeed. It even has negative effects on the bullies themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bullied students most often experience low self-esteem and isolation. They perform poorly in school and can have physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, or problems sleeping. They can also experience depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Witnesses to bullying also suffer. They are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, have mental health problems, and miss or skip school.

Bullies have been shown to be at increased risk for substance abuse, academic problems, and violence in late adolescence and adulthood. Bullies who are also bullied are at the greatest risk for behavioral and mental health problems.

Why Do People Bully?

Children who bully others want control. Bullies won’t stop because they like that feeling of power or control. They realize they are stronger than someone else, so they exploit that power.

The power comes from:

  • Being more assertive or confident
  • Being bigger or more physically capable
  • Having greater numbers
  • Having greater social status
  • Being more manipulative

How to Stop Bullying

Ask your children if they have experienced or witnessed bullying. It can be difficult to admit being a victim or bystander, which is why it’s important to create a safe space. If you learn something troubling, alert school faculty as soon as possible.

Peer support is also a strong deterrent to bullying. Nearly 60% of all bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes. However, that happens less than 20% of the time.

Student bystanders are often aware of bullying situations long before the adults know what’s going on. That’s why it’s essential that they feel encouraged and empowered to intervene, and such behavior should be rewarded. Help your child understand how and when to say something.

Finally, schools can teach the proper ways to intervene and offer resources supporting that behavior. When these tools are available, bullying drops.

Resources Beyond Health Care

AltaMed helps in the community with access to resources that go beyond health care workers. Our licensed social workers speak English and Spanish and can connect you with resources to help you start community improvement programs.

Call us today at (855) 425-1777 to learn more about our services.

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Bullying Happens. Here's How to Stop It.