University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Report: Bullying is a Serious Public Health Problem

Report: Bullying is a Serious Public Health Problem


Bullying is a serious public health problem that occurs in both school settings and digital social spaces, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Committee chair Frederick Rivara, adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, cautioned that bullying has lasting negative consequences not only on victims, but also on bullies and innocent bystanders.

“This is a pivotal time for bullying prevention, and while there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice,” Rivara said.

The report, “Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy and Practice,” found that the problem has transformed from the traditional schoolyard-bully scenario to an entirely new form of electronic aggression, or “cyberbullying,” on social media sites like Facebook.

Rivara and the research committee found that zero-tolerance policies at schools are ineffective. Instead, researchers recommended, schools should refocus resources on preventive intervention policies and programs.

Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other federal agencies, the 310-page report was prepared in collaboration with colleagues including Megan Moreno, adjunct associate professor of health services at the UW School of Public Health, and Mark Hatzenbuehler, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The report received widespread media coverage. Read a story from The Seattle Times here.