The Scope of the Problem

Bullying is a bigger problem than most people realize.

  • A child on a playground somewhere is bullied every 7 minutes
  • 280,000 students are physically attacked in secondary school each month
  • As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they are afraid of being bullied
  • 13 million kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones, and on the streets of their towns this year

More shocking than any of these statistics:

1 in 4 teachers sees nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time.


With the advent of technology and connected devices, a new kind of bullying called cyber bullying is becoming prominent. 15% of high schoolers will be bullied this year, and over 50% of adolescents and teens have been bullied online. Kids who experience cyber bullying like this are more likely to:

  • use (and abuse) alcohol and drugs
  • skip school
  • experience in-person bullying
  • receive poor grades
  • have lower self-esteem
  • have more health problems

We have to break this vicious cycle, and what we’ve been doing is not working.

Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom

There are a couple traditional approaches which (according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) are proven not to work:

  1. Tough Penalties – It’s proven that disciplinary action against the bully can actually make the problem worse.
  2. Peer Mediation – Conflict resolution through peer mediation between the bully and the person being bullied sends the wrong message and projects partial blame on the person being bullied.
  3. Assemblies – Since this is not a cognitive problem, education is not the answer.

The reason these approaches don’t work is that the disease is not the act of bullying – that’s just the manifestation of a much deeper issue. In order to solve this problem, we have to be able to see the forest through the trees. We have to embrace the one strategy which is known to actually move the needle when it comes to conduct problems such as bullying. We have to develop healthy personalities.

Social/Emotional Learning & Bullying

Developing a healthy personality means not just teaching the academic skills to be successful, but also the social/emotional or “soft skills” that are proven to have the greatest impact in an individual’s long-term success. Bullying can not thrive in an environment where these social/emotional skills are present:

  • Interpersonal Assertion – the learned ability to clearly and honestly communicate personal thoughts and feelings to another person in a comfortable, direct, and straightforward manner
  • Self-Esteem – the ability, belief, and skill to view self as positive, competent, and successful in achieving personal goals
  • Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
  • Self-Control – the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations
  • Resiliency – the ability to recover quickly from or adjust to diversity or change
  • Conflict Resolution – the ability for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them

Assessing & Developing These Key Skills

Assessing and teaching social/emotional skills can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools. Fortunately, we provide evidence-based social/emotional learning assessment and skill-building systems that are proven to work in order to make your job easier. Conover Online is the most cost-effective way to develop these skills in the students you work with, costing as little as $15/student.

Want to learn more and see the assessment for yourself? Sign up for our free trail of the Bullying Prevention Map below: