during the previous 6 months was 10 percent for students in grades 6–7, 12 percent for students in grades 8–9, and 7 percent for students in grades 10–11. In a recent national survey of youth in grades 6 through 10, 30 percent reported some type of involvement in moderate or frequent bullying, as a bully (13 percent), a target of bullying (11 percent), or both (6 percent) (Nansel et al., 2001).
The prevalence of bullying is of great concern, as it causes immediate harm and distress to the victim and has negative long-term consequences for the victim’s mental health. It also has negative consequences for the bully, since the bully may become more likely to engage in other aggressive behavior. Understanding bullying is important because it is related to crime, criminal violence, and other types of aggressive antisocial behavior (Farrington, 1993).
Farrington (1993) observes that bullies tend to be aggressive in different settings and over many years. Adolescent bullies tend to become adult bullies and then tend to have children who are bullies (Farrington, 1993). Like offenders, bullies tend to come disproportionately from families with lower socioeconomic status and poor childrearing techniques, tend to be impulsive, are more likely to be involved in other problem behaviors such as drinking and smoking, and tend to be unsuccessful in school (Farrington, 1993; Nansel et al., 2001). Olweus (1992) reported that individuals with a history of bullying had a fourfold increase in criminal behavior by the time they reached their mid-20s. Victims of bullying tend to be unpopular and rejected by peers and tend to have low school attainment, low self-esteem, and poor social skills (Farrington, 1993). There is evidence that social isolation and victimization tend to persist from childhood to adulthood, and that victimized people tend to have children who are victimized (Farrington, 1993; Nansel et al., 2001). Males who are bullied tend to be physically weaker than males in general (Olweus, 1978). Boys are bullies more than girls, but girls and boys are equally victimized (Farrington, 1993). Boys are overwhelmingly bullied by boys, and girls are bullied equally by boys and girls.
In general, bullying incidents occur when adult supervision or surveillance is low (e.g., playgrounds during recess). The most common location is the playground. Not all bullying incidents come to the attention of teachers, and teachers and other children do not always intervene to prevent bullying (Mellor, 1990; Whitney and Smith, 1991; Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner, 1990).
Successful bullying prevention programs generally aim to alter the school environment to make norms against bullying more salient (Farrington, 1993). These programs provide information to the school community about the definition, level, and consequences of bullying. Prevention efforts seek to establish clear rules against and consequences for