Bullying Prevention

Bullying is one of the most serious behavioral issues encountered and perpetrated by students.  The impacts of bullying can significantly challenge students’ academic, psychological, and social development. Early in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Education and other partners updated the definition of bullying.

Bullying is defined as: "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. A young person can be a perpetrator, a victim, or both.1

For more information see:

The Impacts and Prevalence of Bullying

In Montana, as in many other states, bullying is a significant problem. According to eight years1 of data gleaned from over 50,000 respondents to the Montana Safe Schools Center’s statewide survey, the Safe Schools Assessment and Resource Bank (SSARB), bullying consistently ranks as one of the top self-reported safety concern among Montana’s middle and high school students.

Every other year, the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey also indicates that bullying, and the fear that results from it, impacts students' willingness to regularly attend school. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service cite victimization from bullying as one of the very few common traits among school shooters.

Similarly, the sense of isolation that often stems from bullying may lead young people to seek out trusting relationships with strangers via the Internet, thus increasingly exposing these same children to further victimization by potential sexual predators and abductors.

The emotional impacts of bullying can be far-reaching and may predispose certain individuals for contemplating and attempting suicide. This is of particular concern in states like Montana where suicide rates are exceptionally high. For example, the rate of youth suicide in Montana is twice the national average. As of 2014 data, Montana ranked highest in the nation (tied with Wyoming) for suicide completions. Latest national data suggest Suicide is the leading cause of 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24 death.

In Montana’s Indian Country, these numbers climb substantially. For example, 15.1% of American Indian students residing on a reservation and 20.6% of American Indian students in urban settings self-reported having attempted suicide in the last year, according to 2013 YRBS data.

Clearly, putting an end to bullying behavior in schools is critical for ensuring the academic, social, and mental well being of our young people.

Please let us know if you would like assistance in addressing this topic in your school or organization. 

Contact the Safe Schools Center at

safe.schools@umontana.edu or (406) 243-5230

1. Gladden, R.M., Vivolo-Kantor, A.M., Hamburger, M.E., & Lumpkin, C.D. Bullying Surveillance Among Youths: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements, Version 1.0. Atlanta, GA; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Education; 2014.