Background on Bullying

Conflict between people has existed forever, but the term "bully" has only been in existence since 1693. (Thanks, Merriam Webster!) The verb bully means "to affect by means of force or coercion." And while bullying exists in other countries (for instance, they call it "mobbing" in Scandanavian countries and "psychoterror" in Germany), the United States has arguably the worst problem because it is not illegal in many states.

In fact, bullying wasn't viewed as a significant problem until the 1970s. Until then, many viewed bullying or being bullied as a childhood rite of passage. In 1973, Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus published Agression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys. His argument that bullying was a big problem in schools paved the way for many new anti-bullying policies.

While 1 in 4 students are bullied every month, schools have responded to Olweus's warnings and have created anti-bullying policies to reduce the number of bullying incidents and to make students feel safer overall.

Almost every state legally requires anti-bullying policies in schools (though most of these states don't require an online—aka cyberbullying—component). New Jersey has some of the most extensive bullying prevention policies—the state mandates teacher training on how to handle bullying and requires the state board of education to design a model anti-bullying policy that districts can follow.

Research your state's bullying laws and contact your local representative or school board if the policy does not address some of the biggest problems regarding bullying.