Bullying

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What can people do if they see someone being bullied?

Bystanders to bullying can help discourage bullying behavior by asking other people who are witnessing the bullying how they feel about what they have seen and whether they feel the behavior is right or wrong. The group of bystanders can decide individually or as a group to positively influence the situation by expressing their disapproval toward the bully and/or notifying people in authority, like teachers, counselors, or administrators at school or supervisors or the human resources department in the workplace. Bystanders to bullying can also discourage the behavior by encouraging the victim to ask for help from peers and authority figures.

What measures can be implemented to prevent bullying at school and in the workplace?

Effective bullying prevention programs at school tend to be school-wide and involve education of students, teachers, administrators, and parents on what bullying is, understanding how others may view victims, and how to get help. Yearly surveys of students can help maintain awareness of how severe the bullying problem is in a school . Just informing the parents of bullying victims tends to improve the victim child's quality of life. Successful anti-bullying programs increase playground supervision, provide clear consequences for bullying, and teach students who are bystanders to bullying how to stand up for victims so that bullying behavior gains a stigma rather than being socially beneficial.

Interventions that have not consistently been found to be helpful in preventing or decreasing bullying include having the bully and victim try to work out their differences in front of a teacher or counselor at school, a supervisor, or human resources staff at work. Rigid rather than firm no tolerance for bullying policies tend to result in overreactions to behaviors that do not constitute bullying. Telling students above the elementary school level to report bullying may lead to increased bullying. Teachers or work supervisors who either directly or indirectly either intimidate students themselves or tolerate such behaviors are an obstacle to implementing an effective anti-bullying school program.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/5/2016

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