Bullying remains one of the most intractable interpersonal problems facing young Americans across geographic, racial, and economic divides. StopBullying.gov reports that an alarming 20% of young people ages 12 to 18 experience bullying and it is for this reason that every October is National Bullying Prevention Month—a time to draw greater attention to this epidemic of interpersonal violence, what drives it, and how to stop it. Major studies from the last three years showed that most bullying targeting young people occurred in school settings—a reality that has prompted onsite intervention efforts including mapping the zones in which bullying is most likely to occur. This and other school-based strategies have offered educators, parents, and students new tools for managing the crisis, but there is more to tackle than meets the eye. As schools take on hybrid and wholly remote learning models amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of cyberbullying has reached unprecedented heights.
Bullying—repeated aggressive behavior with an intent to hurt another person physically, socially, or mentally—is characterized by an imbalance of power between an instigator and a victim. As classroom educators, we know that bullying takes place in many places, from classrooms to online settings.