Resource: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network on Bullying

Published October 6, 2023

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network on Bullying

Why must educators confront bullying?

While school personnel are charged with supporting the educational attainment of children and adolescents, we know that, in order for educators to accomplish their primary mission, children must feel safe, supported and ready to learn.

The United States National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has identified bullying as one of numerous types of trauma experienced by children.

Bullying, like other traumatic experiences, undermines safety, support and readiness to learn.

How prevalent is bullying?

Per NCTSN, one in five high school students8.2 million are bullied every year (no statistics for elementary students were found in this resource). 

How can we remediate the problem of bullying in schools?

Educators can: 

  • Educate themselves
  • Educate their students
  • Educate their students’ parents

What do we need to know and teach?

Trauma is defined by:

  • the child’s intense feeling of being threatened
  • NOT by any measure of severity that others might use to classify the event

Bullying is behavior that can be:

  • Prevented
  • Interrupted

  • Changed

Bullying is not:

  • A set of static roles
  • Assigning or wearing labels

    • Labeling someone a “bully” may perpetuate the behavior
    • Labeling someone a “victim” may disregard the ability to recover from having been bullied
    • Labeling may later influence uninvolved people
    • Labeling disregards ability to change
    • Labeling disregards context of behavior

Bullying begets bullying:

  • Youth who have been bullied are more likely to bully others

The trauma of being bullied can be detrimental to:

  • Self-image
  • Social interactions
  • School performance
  • Mental health

Long- and short-term effects of being bullied can include:

  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Anger or frustration
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Feelings of rejection
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Changes in
  • Eating patterns
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Health complaints
  • Avoidance of school
  • Poor academic performance
  • Separation anxiety
  • Self-injury
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal or homicidal ideas or actions

Youthful bystanders may also:

  • Feel guilty for failure to stop the bullying
  • Feel unsafe at school
  • Be at increased risk for

    • Depression and anxiety
    • Substance use
    • Absenteeism

Bullying at school may impact:

  • Other students

  • Adults on campus

Social-emotional skills and wellness strategies are needed by

  • All students
  • All school staff

The NCTSN was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act. According to the NCTSN website: “Our mission is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.”

Other resourced from NCTSN are:

To visit the NCTSN website, click here

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