Preventing Bullying: Consequences, Prevention, and Intervention

Suzanne Le Menestrel


Bullying is considered to be a significant public health problem with both short- and long-term physical and social-emotional consequences for youth. A large body of research indicates that youth who have been bullied are at increased risk of subsequent mental, emotional, health, and behavioral problems, especially internalizing problems, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Given the growing awareness of bullying as a public health problem and the increasing evidence of short- and long-term physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health and academic consequences of bullying behavior, there have been significant efforts at the practice, program, and policy levels to address bullying behavior. This article summarizes a recent consensus report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice, and what is known about the consequences of bullying behavior and interventions that attempt to prevent and respond to it.


bullying prevention; bullying; victimization; interventions; programs

Full Text:



American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force. (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools?: An evidentiary review and recommendations. American Psychologist, 63(9) 852-862.

Beran, T. (2009). Correlates of peer victimization and achievement: An exploratory model. Psychology in the Schools, 46(4), 348-361.

Beran, T. N., Hughes, G., & Lupart, J. (2008). A model of achievement and bullying: Analyses of the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth data. Educational Research, 50(1), 25-39.

Beran, T. N., & Lupart, J. (2009). The relationship between school achievement and peer harassment in Canadian adolescents: The importance of mediating factors. School Psychology International, 30(1), 75-91.

Boccanfuso, C., & Kuhfeld, M. (2011, March). Multiple responses, promising results: Evidence-based nonpunitive alternatives to zero tolerance (Research to Results Brief, Child Trends Publication No. 2011-09).

Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). Translating research to practice in bullying prevention. American Psychologist, 70(4), 322.

de Bruyn, E., Cillessen, A., & Wissink, I. (2010). Associations of peer acceptance and perceived popularity with bullying and victimization in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 30(4), 543-566.

Dijkstra, J. K., Lindenberg, S., & Veenstra, R. (2008). Beyond the class norm: Bullying behavior of popular adolescents and its relation to peer acceptance and rejection. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(8), 1289-1299.

Faris, R., & Ennett, S. (2012). Adolescent aggression: The role of peer group status motives, peer aggression, and group characteristics. Social Networks, 34(4), 371-378.

Farmer, T. W., Estell, D. B., Bishop, J. L., O’Neal, K. K., & Cairns, B. D. (2003). Rejected bullies or popular leaders? The social relations of aggressive subtypes of rural African American early adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 39(6), 992-1004.

Farrington, D. P., & Ttofi, M. (2009). School-based programs to reduce bullying and victimization: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 5(6), 1-148.

Gini, G., & Pozzoli, T. (2009). Association between bullying and psychosomatic problems: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 123(3), 1059-1065.

Gladden, R. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Hamburger, M. E., & Lumpkin, C. D. (2014). Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements (Version 1.0). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Education.

Glew, G. M., Fan, M.-Y., Katon, W., Rivara, F. P., & Kernic, M. A. (2005). Bullying, psychosocial adjustment, and academic performance in elementary school. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 159(11), 1026-1031.

Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Keyes, K. M. (2013). Inclusive anti-bullying policies and reduced risk of suicide attempts in lesbian and gay youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S21-S26.

Institute of Medicine. (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. National Academy Press.

Jiménez-Barbero, J. A., Ruiz-Hernández, J. A., Llor-Zaragoza, L., Pérez-García, M., & Llor- Esteban, B. (2016). Effectiveness of anti-bullying school programs: A meta-analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 61, 165-175.

Juvonen, J., Nishina, A., & Graham, S. (2000). Peer harassment, psychological adjustment, and school functioning in early adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(2), 349-359.

Klomek, A. B., Kleinman, M., Altschuler, E., Marrocco, F., Amakawa, L., & Gould, M. S. (2011). High school bullying as a risk for later depression and suicidality. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 41(5), 501-516.

Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1996). Peer victimization: Cause or consequence of school maladjustment? Child Development, 67(4), 1305-1317.

Kowalski, R. M., and Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S13-S20.

Lereya, S. T., Copeland, W. E., Costello, E. J., & Wolke, D. (2015). Adult mental health consequences of peer bullying and maltreatment in childhood: Two cohorts in two countries. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(6), 524-531.

Limber, S. B. (2014). Bullying Among Children and Youth. Unpublished manuscript of a study commissioned by the Planning Committee on Increasing Capacity for Reducing Bullying and Its Impact on the Lifecourse of Youth Involved. Department of Psychology and Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Clemson University.

Marsh, H. W., Nagengast, B., Morin, A. J., Parada, R. H., Craven, R. G., & Hamilton, L. R. (2011). Construct validity of the multidimensional structure of bullying and victimization: An application of exploratory structural equation modeling. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 701-732.

McDougall, P., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015). Long-term adult outcomes of peer victimization in childhood and adolescence: Pathways to adjustment and maladjustment. American Psychologist, 70(4), 300.

Minton, S. J. (2014). Prejudice and effective anti-bullying intervention: Evidence from the bullying of “minorities.” Nordic Psychology, 66(2), 108-120.

Musher-Eizenman, D. R., Boxer, P., Danner, S., Dubow, E. F., Goldstein, S. E., & Heretick, D. M. L. (2004). Social-cognitive mediators of the relation of environmental and emotion regulation factors to children’s aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 30(5), 389-408.

Nakamoto, J., & Schwartz, D. (2010). Is peer victimization associated with academic achievement? A meta-analytic review. Social Development, 19(2), 221-242.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Preventing bullying through science, policy, and practice. The National Academies Press.

Neary, A., & Joseph, S. (1994). Peer victimization and its relationship to self-concept and depression among schoolgirls. Personality and Individual Differences, 16(1), 183-186.

Nixon, C. (2014). Current perspectives: The impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 143-158.

Olweus, D. (1993a). Bullying at school. What we know and what we can do. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Olweus, D. (1993b). Victimization by peers: Antecedents and long-term outcomes. In K. H. Rubin & J. B. Asendorpf (Eds.), Social Withdrawal, Inhibition, and Shyness in Childhood (pp. 315-341). Psychology Press.

Olweus, D. (2001). Peer harassment: A critical analysis and some important issues. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 3-20). Guilford Press.

Peeters, M., Cillessen, A. H., & Scholte, R. H. (2010). Clueless or powerful? Identifying subtypes of bullies in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(9), 1041-1052.

Polanin, J. R., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2012). A meta-analysis of school-based bullying prevention programs’ effects on bystander intervention behavior. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 47-65.

Pöyhönen, V., Juvonen, J., & Salmivalli, C. (2010). What does it take to stand up for the victim of bullying? The interplay between personal and social factors. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 56(2), 143-163.

Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., & Telch, M. J. (2010). Peer victimization and internalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(4), 244-252.

Rigby, K., & Slee, P. T. (1993). Dimensions of interpersonal relation among Australian children and implications for psychological well-being. Journal of Social Psychology, 133(1), 33-42.

Rigby, K., & Slee, P. (2008). Interventions to reduce bullying. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20(2), 165-183.

Rivers, I., & Noret, N. (2013). Potential suicide ideation and its association with observing bullying at school. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S32-S36.

Rivers, I., Poteat, V. P., Noret, N., & Ashurst, N. (2009). Observing bullying at school: The mental health implications of witness status. School Psychology Quarterly, 24(4), 211-223.

Rodkin, P. C., Espelage, D. L., & Hanish, L. D. (2015). A relational framework for understanding bullying: Developmental antecedents and outcomes. American Psychologist, 70(4), 311-321.

Salmivalli, C. (2001). Group view on victimization: Empirical findings and their implications. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school (pp. 398-419). Guilford Press.

Salmivalli, C. (2010). Bullying and the peer group: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15(2), 112-120.

Salmivalli, C. (2014). Participant roles in bullying: How can peer bystanders be utilized in interventions? Theory Into Practice, 53(4), 286-292.

Sijtsema, J. J., Veenstra, R., Lindenberg, S., & Salmivalli, C. (2009). Empirical test of bullies’ status goals: Assessing direct goals, aggression, and prestige. Aggressive Behavior, 35, 57-67.

Thunfors, P., & Cornell, D. (2008). The popularity of middle school bullies. Journal of School Violence, 7(1), 65-82.

Trach, J., Hymel, S., Waterhouse, T., & Neale, K. (2010). Bystander responses to school bullying: A cross-sectional investigation of grade and sex differences. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 25(1), 114-130.

Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2009). What works in preventing bullying: Effective elements of anti-bullying programmes. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 1(1), 13-24.

Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2011). Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: A systematic and meta-analytic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(1), 27-56.

Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., Lösel, F., & Loeber, R. (2011). Do the victims of school bullies tend to become depressed later in life? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 3(2), 63-73.

Vaillancourt, T., Hymel, S., & McDougall, P. (2003). Bullying is power: Implications for school-based intervention strategies. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19(2), 157-176.

Vaillancourt, T., McDougall, P., Hymel, S., & Sunderani, S. (2010). The relationship between power and bullying behavior. In S. R. Jimerson, S. M. Swearer, & D. L. Espelage (Eds.), Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective (pp. 211-222). Routledge.

Vaillancourt, T., Brittain, H. L., McDougall, P., & Duku, E. (2013). Longitudinal links between childhood peer victimization, internalizing and externalizing problems, and academic functioning: Developmental cascades. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(8), 1203-1215.

Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2011). Online communication among adolescents: An integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(2), 121-127.

Vreeman, R. C., & Carroll, A. E. (2007). A systematic review of school-based interventions to prevent bullying. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161(1), 78-88.

Wolke, D., & Lereya, S. T. (2015). Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(9), 879-85.

Wolke, D., Lereya, S. T., Fisher, H., Lewis, G., & Zammit, S. (2014). Bullying in elementary school and psychotic experiences at 18 years: A longitudinal, population-based cohort study. Psychological Medicine, 44(10, 2199-2211.

Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. L. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(7), 1308-1316.


Copyright (c) 2020 Suzanne Le Menestrel

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.