School-Based Bullying Prevention

What should I do to implement a program in my school
that can prevent or intervene in bullying?

  • Introduction

    CrimeSolutionsThis MPG I-Guide is focused on the problem of bullying in school, and is intended for those individuals interested in creating safe school environments by implementing school-based bullying prevention programs. Potential users of this I-Guide include school administrators, teachers and school staff, students, parents, practitioners, and professionals who work with youth, as well as others in the community.

    Users of this I-Guide can be at any point in the pre-implementation stage. For example, it may be helpful to those who want to target school-based bullying but are unsure of the extent and nature of bullying occurring in their school. This I-Guide provides information about needs assessment tools and other approaches to diagnose bullying. It can also help those who already know about a school’s bullying problem but may need guidance about how to get buy-in and support to implement a prevention program.

    Access Bullying programs and literature reviews on OJJDP's Model Programs Guide.

    NIJ's offers a profile on School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs practices. These include evidence ratings for outcomes for:

    • effective Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Bullying.
    • effective Victimization - Being Bullied.
    • effective Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Bystander Intervention.
    • ineffective Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Empathy for the Victim.

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  • Goal of this I-Guide

    This I-Guide focuses on the beginning stages of implementing prevention and intervention programs that target all forms of school-based bullying.1

    To narrow the focus of this I-Guide, research and evaluations of evidence-based programs were included if they met one of the following standards:

    • The program stated that it directly targeted bullying, victimization, or bystander behavior; or
    • The evaluation of the program included measures of bullying, victimization, bystander behavior, or other related bullying measures.

    These standards were used so that this I-Guide is specific to the problem of school-based bullying and provides targeted, rather than broad, information on bullying prevention in schools. Essentially, this I-Guide answers the question: "What should I do to implement a program or practice in my community that can address the problem of school-based bullying?"

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  • Brief Background on School-Based Bullying

    Bullying is a significant problem nationally and internationally. Although it is a form of aggressive or violent behavior, four aspects of bullying separate it from other aggressive or violent behaviors:

    1. The behavior stems from an intent to cause fear, distress, or harm;
    2. The behavior is repeated over time;
    3. There is a real or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and the victim; and
    4. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or psychological/relational.

    Youths involved with bullying are classified as bullies, bully-victims, or bystanders. Being either a bully or a victim of bullying can put youth at-risk for contact with the justice system and for developing other problem behaviors. For example, there is an increased risk of being violent later in life, by about one-third for bully-victims and two-thirds for bullies.

    Because bullying varies from school to school, a number of different programs were designed to prevent or reduce bullying, such as: awareness-raising efforts, mediation and conflict resolution, curricular approaches, and comprehensive approaches. Descriptions of these approaches, as well as general information on the effectiveness of bullying prevention programs for grades K-12, are available in the School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs practice profile on The issue of school-based bullying is further explored in the Bullying Literature Review featured on the MPG.

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  • Steps to Take: School-Based Bullying Prevention

    Below are the 10 steps of the MPG I-Guide on implementing school-based bullying prevention programs. You can view the steps in the order listed, or go directly to those steps that are most relevant to your implementation process. The 10 steps are also listed in the blue box on the right side of the page, allowing you to easily navigate through the I-Guide.

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1Note that information on cyberbullying and bullying that occurs outside of school is not included in this I-Guide, because the research on programs and practices to address these forms of bullying is still developing. In addition, this I-Guide focuses on programs (classroom-based or school-wide) that prevent or intervene with bullying, but it does not address programs that help individuals with the consequences of bullying, such as therapeutic approaches. Similarly, this I-Guide does not focus on programs aimed at affecting a school’s climate, which can impact bullying indirectly; instead, the research used to develop this I-Guide focused on the implementation of programs that target and impact bullying directly.