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A young girl talking with her mother.

Bullying doesn’t just happen to the smallest kid in the class. Bullies target those who seem to be less powerful or not as strong. Bullies also often target children who seem "different". Children with disabilities are sometimes more likely to be bullied than children without disabilities.

It is important to understand the effects of bullying, what adults can do to help prevent bullying, and where to find additional resources.

The effects of bullying can be serious, including depression, low self-esteem, health problems, and even suicide. Adults can help prevent bullying by teaching children about bullying, giving them tools for what to do if they’re being bullied, and taking steps to protect children’s legal right not to be bullied.

Types of Bullying


Bullying can be physical, involving hitting or attacking another person.

Verbal or Electronic

Bullying also can come in the form of verbal or electronic aggression (using the internet or cell phones, for example). It can include name calling; verbal threats; and threatening, embarrassing, or insulting emails or texts.


A bully also might use psychological aggression, including spreading rumors or excluding a person from activities or conversations.

The Effects of Bullying

Bullying, teasing, and harassment should not be considered normal rites of passage or just "kids being kids".

Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to:

  • Be depressed, lonely, and anxious;
  • Have low self-esteem;
  • Experience headaches, stomachaches, tiredness, and poor eating;
  • Be absent from school, dislike school, and have poorer school performance; and
  • Think about suicide or try to commit suicide.

What Can We Do?

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults can help prevent bullying. They can:

  • Explain Bullying

    Children do not always know when they are bullied. They might feel bad, but don’t know how to talk about it. Children with disabilities that affect how they think, learn, or interact with others might need a very detailed explanation about how to recognize bullying when it happens to themselves or others. More tips about how to talk about bullying are here.

  • Teach Children What To Do

    Children need assistance in learning what to do to protect themselves from bullying and to help others who are being bullied. They might need very specific instructions, particularly if they have disabilities that affect how they think, learn, or interact with others. They might need to be encouraged to always reach out to a trusted adult, and they might need to learn to recognize and avoid situations where bullying occurs. Ways to teach children how to respond include talking with them often about what they have experienced, thinking about different ways they could respond, and practicing by role play.  Some of the ways to respond to bullies is to tell them to stop, use humor, walk away, and get help. More tips about how to respond to bullying are here.

    Children might not always know when they are bullying another child. Children whose disabilities impact their thinking, learning, or social skills might need extra help learning how to express themselves with respect to others.