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Bullying is defined as a form of unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children of similar age that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and that is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.


What does power imbalance and repetition mean?
  • Imbalance of power: An imbalance of power involves the use of physical strength, popularity, or access to embarrassing information to hurt or control another person.
  • Repetition: Bullying is typically a repeated action - occurring more than once or having the potential to occur more than once.
What does bullying look like?

There are three broad forms of bullying, including physical, verbal, and social bullying.

  • Physical bullying is a form of intentional aggression that involves injuring someone or damaging their property. Examples of physical bullying include hitting, kicking or punching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking someone’s belongings, or making mean or rude gestures.
  • Verbal bullying is a form of intentional aggression that involves saying or writing things that are mean or hurtful to others. Examples of verbal bullying include teasing, name-calling, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments, or threatening to cause harm to another person.
  • Social bullying is a form of intentional aggression that is used to damage someone’s reputation or relationships. Examples of social bullying include leaving someone out on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone, or embarrassing someone in public.
What is Cyberbullying?

The term cyberbullying refers to bullying using electronic devices, such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, or other communication tools, including social media sites, text messages, chat rooms, and websites.

Featured Resources

Toolkit title in yellow text with clipart of students walking to bus

Provides information and sample communications to promote SchoolSafety.gov during the back-to-school season.

Crossing guard walking students across street

Presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an array of sources. The 2021 edition of the Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety is the 24th in a series of annual publications. Beginning with the 2020 edition, this report has been redesigned with the intention of increasing its usability for a wider audience. This report does so by highlighting selected findings from 23 indicators on various school crime and safety topics.

back to school mask

Describes the importance that schools ensure that the learning environment is welcoming and students do not experience bullying, harassment, or exclusion from school activities because of their decision of whether or not to use facemasks due to COVID-19.


Provides information on the harmful effects that bullying can have on student mental health. Young people who are bullied are more likely to feel lonely and want to avoid school. They are more likely to have symptoms of depression, which could contribute to their risk for suicide.

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Includes two modules trainers can use to address bullying in classrooms.  Specifically, it is designed to assist teachers in cultivating meaningful relationships with students while creating a positive climate in the classroom.

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Provides key preparedness and response considerations during COVID-19 and gives school safety teams, families, and students practical

Overview of the Social Bullying: Correlates, Consequences, and Prevention resource page

Describes how social bullying is defined, what distinguishes it from other types of aggression, how commonly it occurs in schools, and what factors contribute to social bullying involvement. It also summarizes research findings concerning the impacts of social bullying on individual social development and adjustment and identifies implications for school learning environments. The last section describes school-based approaches for preventing and reducing social bullying.

OJJDP resource cover page.

Discusses key findings from the Technology Harassment Victimization study that the National Institute of Justice sponsored. It is a follow-up study to the second National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV II). The study, conducted between December 2013 and March 2014, examined technology-involved harassment within the context of other types of youth victimization and risk factors to improve current policy and practice regarding the issue.

Related Resources




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U.S. Department of Education

The contents of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Web site were assembled under contracts from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Contract Number  91990021A0020.

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