School Risk Factors

In schools, bullying usually occurs in areas with minimal or no adult supervision. It can occur within or around school buildings, though it more often occurs in physical education classes, hallways, bathrooms or classes that require group work and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of, or isolating, a specific student and outnumbering the student. Targets of bullying in school are often pupils who are considered strange or different by their

peers, making the situation harder for them to deal with. Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers, or instigated against them. A negative school climate where negative behavior gets most of the attention encourages the formation of cliques and bullying.

The response of adults, or lack of response, plays a key role in creating a school climate that tolerates or discourages bullying. The amount of adult supervision is directly tied to the frequency and severity of bullying in schools.

School Climate

The adults in our nation’s schools play a major role in creating a positive or negative school climate. When the school climate is not supportive and unhealthy, then bullying and concomitant problems proliferate. In schools where high levels of bullying exist are schools that have a negative and punitive school climate, the learning environment can be poisoned by bullying and put-downs, raising the fear and anxiety of all students.

Teacher Attitudes

When adults in the school system ignore bullying or feel that bullying is just “kids being kids,” then higher levels of bullying will exist. Twenty-five percent of the teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and put-downs.

Schools condone this behavior and do nothing to prevent bullying and put- downs. Some teachers threaten, tease or intimidate students to maintain control of their classroom.

Classroom Characteristics

Schools are comprised of classrooms and it stands to reason that healthy classroom environments will have less bullying and victimization. There are

four classroom characteristics that have been found to be associated with greater levels of bullying and victimization:

1) negative peer friendships

2) poor teacher-student relationships

3) lack of self-control, and 4) poor problem-solving among students

Academic Engagement

When students are challenged and motivated to do well in school, engagement in bullying and victimization is lower. Students involved in bullying and victimization are less academically engaged.

School Belonging

Elementary students who bullied others reported lower rates of school belonging than students who were victimized or not involved in bullying. Data from 16,917 middle and high school students showed that feelings of school belonging were associated with less bullying and victimization.

Lack of InterventionIdentification and early intervention programs are lacking in many schools. Bullies can be identified as early as pre-school.