Bullying Prevention Month
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2014), “Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involved an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm”. It is estimated that approximately one in five students report being bullied (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016). Students with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than students without disabilities (Disabilities: Insights from Across Fields and Around the World, 2009). There are multiple forms of bullying to include physical, verbal, and/or social, and can happen anywhere.
Bullying Risk Factors
There are multiple risk factors for identifying children who may be at risk for bullying as well as students with increased risk of being bullied. Knowing the symptoms and properly identifying them can result in immediate linkage to resources and appropriate effective interventions. Some of the risk factors for children at increased risk for bullying include the following:
• Caregivers who exhibit harsh parenting
• Children who externalize problems such as disruptive and/or defiant behavior
• Children who have attitudes accepting of violence
Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of a child being bullied include the following:
• Students who are characterized as being different or quiet by peers
• Students who exhibit poor relationships with their peers
• Students who have low self-esteem
Keep in mind students with disabilities have increased risk of being bullied more so than their peers.
Bullying Prevention Tips for Health Care Providers
Pediatricians and other health care professionals play an important role in preventing bullying as well as linking parents and children to the appropriate resources. Use the following tips as a guide to prevent bullying and implement effective interventions:
• Screen patients during visits to identify if they are having any issues at school. Example questions include the following:
o Are you ever afraid to go to school for any reason? If so, why?
o Do you know what bullying is?
o Do you feel comfortable asking for help if you or someone you know is being bullied?
o Have you or someone you know ever experienced bullying at school, online, or in your neighborhood? If so, who? Can you tell me a little bit more about what they say or do?
• Pay attention to any new problems a student may have such as attention problems, school phobia, and/or psychosomatic conditions.
• If you identify a child who is being bullied or one who bullies, make sure to link the parents/caregivers to the appropriate resources and help them identify and effectively respond to signs of bullying.
• At each visit, routinely screen for potential risk factors of children who are bullied as well as those who bully particularly among children who are at high risks such as children with disabilities. If you see signs, immediately intervene appropriately.
Healthcare provider Resources
• PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center - Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities
• Stopbullying.gov – Who’s at Risk of Being Bullied
• Centers for Disease Prevention and Control - Bullying Research
• Centers for Disease Prevention and Control – Understanding Bullying Fact Sheet
• Stopbullying.gov-Roles for Pediatricians in Bullying Prevention and Intervention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. Understanding Bullying Fact Sheet. Available at
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, 2017. Bullying Statistics. Available at
Stopbullying, 2017. Roles for Pediatricians in Bullying Prevention and Intervention. Available at