How schools and parents can help prevent bullying

Mount Holyoke Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education Jackson M. Matos weighs in on about how adults can prevent bullying.

In the last year, one in five high school students reported being bullied on school property and more than one in six reported being bullied online. Bullying presents a persistent barrier to education and self-efficacy for early students.’s Liz Regalia asked experts about the role schools, parents and adults can play in protecting students against bullying.

Bullying can take the form of verbal, social, emotional, cyber or physical bullying, all of which interfere with a child’s ability to feel safe and comfortable at school, disrupting the social, emotional and learning benefits of their education. In response, schools have implemented anti bullying policies in the form of mission statements, codes of conduct or student bills of rights, resulting in a 6% decrease in bullying of students aged 12–18 from 2009 to 2019. But with new technologies, 46% of U.S. teens aged 13–17 reported experiencing cyberbullying in 2022.

Among the myriad of interventions — like community anti bullying education, evidence-based anti bullying programs and peer anti bullying education — Mount Holyoke Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education and Director of Middle, Secondary and Arts Teacher Licensure Programs Jackson M. Matos shared how adults can play a role in modeling and embedding social and emotional learning in education.

“A significant challenge is posed by adults when they view bullying as ‘normal’ or as a rite of passage — it’s not,” said Matos. “Adults can help the efforts of schools by also modeling communication in person and online and being mindful of the words and attitudes they are teaching their young people. Everyone has a role to play in the important work of addressing bullying.”

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