“Bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself. Bullying is peer abuse.”
— Dr. Dan Olweus


160,000 – Estimated number of U.S students who skip school daily to avoid being bullied.  —Teaching Tolerance

Research estimates that just over 11 million students (grades K-12) are involved in bullying in the United States, either by bullying others, being bullied, or both, and that more than 4 million kids have been bullied for one year or longer.  —Olweus

The most common forms of bullying are verbal bullying, rumor spreading, and exclusion.  —Olweus

19.6% of high school students in the United States report being bullied at school in the past year.  14.8% reported being bullied online —Center for Disease Control, 2014

Nearly 9 out of 10, or 86% of gay or lesbian students experienced harassment at school in the past year —2007 National School Climate Survey released by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network 

Research shows that the odds of having criminal offenses later in life (as long as 11 years later) was 150% higher for individuals who when young had bullied others, compared to those who had not. —Olweus

Students who bully others are at increased risk for substance abuse, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood —Center for Disease Control, 2012

Kids who normally view bullying as wrong may join in if they don’t get the message from adults or other kids that bullying is unacceptable behavior. —Olweus

More than half of bullying situations (57%) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied —Hawkins, Pepler, and Craig, 2001

School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25% —McCallion and Feder, 2013

Kids who are bullied and bully others may need help from adults to learn better ways to interact with peers. —Olweus

Compared to students who only bully, or who are only victims, students who do both suffer the most serious consequences and are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems —Center for Disease Control, 2012

Many young people who are bullied don’t tell anyone, and boys and older kids are least likely to tell. —Olweus

64% of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36% reported the bullying —Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010

Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment —Center for Disease Control, 2012


There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression and delinquency —Hertz, Donato, and Wright, 2013.

Youth victimized by their peers were 2.4 times more likely to report suicidal ideation and 3.3 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than youth who reported not being bullied —Espelage and Holt, 2013


A welcoming and inclusive social environment is built on the following principals:

  • Adults show warmth, express positive interest, and are actively engaged with students.
  • There are firm limits for unacceptable behavior.
  • Appropriate nonphysical, non-hostile, negative consequences result when someone breaks the rule for unacceptable behavior.  Positive behavior is consistently acknowledged and rewarded.
  • Adults function as authorities and positive role models for students.  

Before implementing at your school, keep in mind:

  • Effective programs require strong administrative leadership and ongoing commitment on the part of adults in the school.
  • The most effective programs are comprehensive and involve the entire school community.  They include interventions at the school, classroom and individual level.


What is the Olwus Bullying Prevention Program?


The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is the most researched and best-known bullying prevention program available today.  With over 35 years of research and successful implementation all over the world, OBPP is a whole-school program that has been proven to prevent or reduce bullying throughout the school setting. 

The program attempts to restructure the existing school environment to reduce opportunities and rewards for bullying.  Staff members receive training from certified OBPP trainers to learn and implement the program within the school community.  Administration, faculty, staff, students and parents each have a role and participate in the program.



The OBPP is not a classroom curriculum.  It is a whole school, systems change program at four different levels. Program components for each level include:


  • Establish a bullying prevention coordinating committee.
  • Conduct committee and staff trainings.
  • Administer the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire to all students.
  • Hold staff discussion group meetings.
  • Introduce the school rules against bullying.
  • Review and refine the school’s supervisory system.
  • Hold a kick-off event to launch the program.
  • Involve parents.

Individual Level

  • Supervise students’ activities.
  • Ensure that all staff members intervene on the spot when bullying occurs.
  • Hold meetings with students involved in bullying.
  • Hold meetings with parents of involved students.
  • Develop individual intervention plans for involved students.

Classroom Level

  • Post and enforce school wide rules against bullying.
  • Hold regular class meetings.
  • Hold meetings with the students’ parents.

Community Level

  • Involve community members in the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee.
  • Develop partnerships with community members to support your school’s program.
  • Help to spread anti-bullying messages and principles of best practice in the community.  

The Goals of the Olweus Program are: 

1. Reduce existing bullying problems

2. Prevent new bullying problems

3. Achieve better peer relations


  • Bullying can seriously affect the emotional, physical and academic well being of children who are bullied.
  • Dealing with discipline problems related to bullying incidents can take a good deal of administrators’ and educators’ time during a school day.
  • Bullying can contribute to a negative climate in schools.
  • Bullying is more prevalent than many adults suspect.  
  • Some schools around the country have been sued for not addressing bullying.


OBPP was developed by Dan Olweus, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway. In the early 1980’s, three adolescent boys committed suicide, most likely as a consequence of severe bullying by peers. The country’s Ministry of Education commissioned professor Dan Olweus to conduct a large-scale research and intervention project on bullying problems. The results of the project were astounding:

  • A 30% - 70% reduction in student reports of being bullied and bullying others
  • Significant reductions in student reports of general antisocial behavior including vandalism, fighting, theft and truancy
  • Significant improvements in classroom order and discipline
  • More positive attitude toward schoolwork and school

After implementing OBPP on a wide-scale basis in Norway and during the 1990s, Dr. Olweus worked with Dr. Susan Limber and other colleagues in the United States to implement and evaluate the program.  Today, OBPP is one of the most successful bullying prevention programs and Dr. Olweus has been named “the world’s leading authority” on bullying prevention programs.  

Sources:  Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

 PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center http://www.pacer.org/bullying/

Teaching Tolerance www.tolerance.org/bullied