Bullying Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Bullying is the result of a power imbalance where a person tries to hurt another person and does it more than once. It can be physical, verbal, or social, and can also take place over the internet with emails or text messages (Juvonen & Graham, 2014). Most bullying incidents occur within the school environment (Batsche & Knoff, 1994), as such for education systems to work effectively, schools require policies and practices that create safe conditions for both teaching and learning (Le Mottee & Kelly, 2017). However, many teachers do not feel equipped to handle bullying incidents, despite existing training efforts that may be provided (Bradshaw et al., 2011). Additionally, bullying directed towards educators is emerging as an area of concern and can be initiated by students, parents or caregivers, or school staff (McMahon et al., 2014).

The Learning Bar's Staff Survey framework is based on 13 core indicators designed to capture the key metrics of employee health and well-being. Together, these indicators support the development of a positive school climate.

Why is it important?

  • Workplace bullying is associated with poor mental health outcomes among teachers (Bernotaite & Malinauskiene, 2017).
  • Learner-to-teacher bullying has negative consequences not just for teachers but the teaching profession as a whole, as it impacts the quality of education that learners experience (Le Mottee & Kelly, 2017).
  • Whole-school interventions can alter attitudes toward bullying by increasing reporting of bullying incidents and intervention from students and teachers (Valle et al., 2020).

How do we measure it?

The OurSCHOOL Staff survey asks staff to report on the frequency with which they were bullied in the past four weeks by either peers, parents, or students in any of the following ways: physical, verbal, social, and cyber. The results are reported as “the percentage of staff who are victims of moderate or severe bullying from peers”, “the percentage of staff who are victims of moderate or severe bullying from parents”, and “the percentage of staff who are victims of moderate or severe bullying from students.”

Respondents are also prompted by an item that assesses the level of support received from school leaders when they are the victims of bullying and respond to three items regarding perceptions of safety at the school. In addition, the survey captures ten items concerning feelings of exclusion or unfair treatment, and an item on whether they have experienced any form of sexual harassment followed by another item on how they responded to the sexual harassment. Responses to each of these questions are reported in “Further Detail” charts.

Furthermore, the OurSCHOOL Staff survey includes five items asking respondents to report on the bullying procedures implemented within their school. The results are reported as “the percentage of staff who indicate that their school has effective bullying policies and procedures.” The survey also includes two items regarding the level of diversity and inclusion within the school. The results are reported as “The percentage of staff who indicate that their school celebrates diversity”, and “The percentage of staff who indicate that their school is an inclusive environment.”


Batsche, G. M., & Knoff, H. M. (1994). Bullies and their victims: Understanding a pervasive problem in the schools. School Psychology Review, 23, 165-175.

Bernotaite, L., & Malinauskiene, V. (2017). Workplace bullying and mental health among teachers in relation to psychosocial job characteristics and burnout. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 30(4), 629-640.

Bradshaw, C. P., Waasdorp, T. E., O’Brennan, L. M., & Gulemetova, M. (2011). Findings from the National Education Association’s nationwide study of bullying: Teachers’ and education support professionals’ perspectives. National Education Association.

Juvonen, J., & Graham, S. (2014). Bullying in schools: The power of bullies and the plight of victims. Annual Review of Psychology65, 159-185.

Le Mottee, C., & Kelly, J. (2017). Behind the blackboard: Reviewing educators experiences of school violence in South Africa. Southern African Journal of Criminology, 30(3), 46-67.

McMahon, S. D., Martinez, A., Espelage, D., Rose, C., Reddy, L. A., Lane, K., Anderman, E. M., Reynolds, C. R., Jones, A., & Brown, V. (2014). Violence directed against teachers: Results from a national survey. Psychology in the Schools, 51(7), 753-766.

Valle, J. E., Williams, L. C., & Stelko‐Pereira, A. C. (2020). Whole‐school antibullying interventions: A systematic review of 20 years of publications. Psychology in the Schools, 57(6), 868-883.

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