Skip to main content

SAMHSA News- Bullying: Dispelling Myths, Enhancing Prevention (Winter 2014)


Although definitions of bullying vary, experts generally agree that the core elements of bullying consist of unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children involving a real or perceived power imbalance. There is also an element of repetition, meaning the behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. Types of bullying include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Social exclusion
  • Spreading rumors
  • Cyberbullying (via e-mails, texts, websites)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year between 20 and 56 percent of students in the United States are involved in bullying. Verbal bullying appears to be the most common form, followed by cyberbullying which has risen with the use of technology.

Although bullying may be associated with suicide-related behaviors, assuming a causal relationship is an oversimplification. A history of depression and delinquency increases the concurrence of bullying and suicide, say experts in the field. But bullying, alone, does not cause suicide and there are many factors that contribute to death by suicide.

The effects of bullying are evident in both psychological and physiological ways. For example, headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, bedwetting, and sleep disturbance all may be warning signs that bullying is occurring.


ADD/ADHD Autism Spectrum Disorder Behavior Bullying Challenging Behavior Collaboration Deaf-Blind Developmental Delay Elementary Emotional Disability Federal Laws General Education Hearing Impairment High School Intellectual Disability Learning Disability Mental Health Middle School Mild/Moderate Disabilities Multiple Disabilities Orthopedic Impairment Other Health Impairment Paraprofessional Parent/Family Preschool Related Services Speech/Language Impairment Traumatic Brain Injury Vision Impairment