Anti-bullying curriculum asks bystanders to take action
School is a place for learning and socializing with peers. But for the 28% of students who report being bullied, school can be a scary place.1
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power (e.g., physical strength, popularity, or access to embarrassing information).
Bullying can be any or all of the following:
- Physical: hitting or attacking someone or damaging a person's belongings
- Verbal: teasing or threatening to hurt someone in person or online
- Relational: purposefully leaving someone out of a group or spreading rumors in person or online
To reduce bullying—at school and online—NICHD has adapted a curriculum, “Bullying: Be More Than a Bystander,” from information on stopbullying.gov. This website is developed by partners from the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice, as part of a larger interagency effort to address bullying.
The new online curriculum emphasizes that bullying is not just a simple interaction between the bully and the student being bullied and aims to engage bystanders to stake a stand against bullying. An estimated 70% of students have witnessed bullying at school, which suggests that the curriculum has the potential to really make a difference.
NICHD is collaborating with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and service organizations such as Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. , and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. , to raise awareness about bullying and how to do more to prevent it. The "Bullying: Be More Than a Bystander" curriculum (PDF - 1.09 MB) identifies ways that bystanders can take action:
- Be a friend to the person who is being bullied, so they do not feel alone.
- Tell a trusted adult about any observed bullying.
- Help the person get away from the bullying without putting yourself at risk.
- Don't enable bullying by providing an audience.
- Set a good example by not bullying.
- Protect yourself and others from cyberbullying.
"Empowering youth who may find themselves a bystander to bullying is an important way to address this challenging issue," said NICHD's Triesta Fowler-Lee, M.D., who leads the initiative.
NICHD is highlighting this and other efforts to raise awareness about and prevent youth violence throughout the month of March. Bullying, both in person and online, is a prevalent form of violence at school. In a 2009 NICHD study of students in grades 6 to 10, more than 12% reported being physically bullied within the past 2 months, while 13% reported that they had physically bullied someone else.2
With evidence showing both the bully and the person being bullied are at a higher risk of depression,3 finding ways to stop bullying is crucial.
We encourage educators, youth organization leaders, and others to learn more about Being More Than a Bystander.
For more information about bullying resources at NICHD, select one of the following links:
- Bullying: Be More Than a Bystander (Facilitator's Guide)
- Bullying: Be More Than a Bystander (Presentation)
- NICHD A to Z Topic: Bullying
- Additional NICHD resources related to bullying
- Previous NICHD Spotlights on bullying
- Partner organizations
- Additional Resources
Originally Posted: March 1, 2016
- Robers, S., Kemp, J., Rathbun, A., & Morgan, R. E. (2014). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2013 (PDF - 4.5 MB) (NCES 2014-042/NCJ 243299). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
- Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School bullying among US adolescents: physical, verbal, relational and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(4),368-375.
- Wang, J., Nansel, T. R., & Iannotti, R. J. (2011). Cyber bullying and traditional bullying: differential association with depression. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(4), 415-417.