Sometimes parents, guardians and/or students tell teachers or the Principal in their school about mean, cruel and/or bullying behavior and they do not respond in helpful ways.

There are many reasons why educators sometimes do not respond helpfully:

  • They may not know what to do.
  • They may believe that this is not the responsibility of educators and the school to respond.
  • They may not know about your States bully prevention laws and/or educational policies.
  • They may believe that this is “normal” behavior.
  • They may believe that this is something that students need to “sort out” themselves.

In fact, most States now have laws and/or educational policies that prohibit harassment and bullying behavior. To learn about bully prevention as well as positive school climate laws and educational policies in your State, click here.

It is not ok for others to treat your child in mean, cruel and/or bullying ways.

We always suggest that if this is occurring, first contact your school Principal. If you believe that the school Principal is not responding in a helpful and responsible manner, we suggest that you contact the following people:

  1. The Superintendent of your district.
  2. The head of your local school board.
  3. Your State Department of Education’s Safe Schools coordinator. (To learn who this person is and what their phone number is, go to this site and call the Education Commissioner's office. They will be able to provide you with the name and phone number of the State leader who is responsible for safe schools.)
  4. Your regional Equity Assistance Center. The 10 Equity Assistance Centers (EACs) are funded by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The EACs assist states, districts, and schools to promote equal educational opportunity regardless of race, gender, or national origin and ensure that all schools provide students the opportunity to succeed academically.

Educational leaders are sometimes unsure how to best address the complicating and changing bully prevention and harassment related laws and policies.

NSCC offers legal/educational consultation in the following areas:

  • Anti-Bullying Compliance: participants receive comprehensive checklists detailing district, state and federal responsibilities for bullying and harassment
  • Bullying vs. Harassment: The distinctions between the two and why it matters, participants receive a bullying vs. harassment chart
  • Policy Development: participants receive model policies to promote anti-bullying and positive school climate efforts school wide
  • Investigation Training: participants receive practical investigative skills and protocols gained through a presentation and role-play based on a challenging and realistic scenario

For further information, please contract Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D. at (212 707-8799)

Do you have a question about bullying or a story you'd like to share?
Want to get your school involved with BullyBust or share more resources that could make a difference to other students?

Make a Difference—Support BullyBust!

Research shows that cracking down on individual bullies is seldom effective, but a school-wide commitment to end bullying can reduce the problem by 50%. Last year, NSCC launched BullyBust, our community-wide bully prevention awareness campaign designed to help students and adults “stand up” to bullying and become part of the solution to end harmful verbal harassment, teasing and violence in our nation's schools.

Today, BullyBust reaches more than 500,000 students in more than 1,300 schools and districts nationwide, but we know there are thousands more in need of our help.

We are asking for support from you—our friends, parents and educators—to help us reach these students and ensure that we create a community of “upstanders” who support NSCC's vision that all children deserve to develop the essential social, emotional and intellectual skills to become healthy and productive citizens.

We need your support! Your contribution will help make certain that BullyBust continues to grow in the year ahead, providing high-quality bully prevention supports for free to every school that needs them.

Below is a list of our resources. Learn more about bullying and how you can make a difference. Educators will find free resources to reduce bullying and promote upstander behavior in their classrooms. Students, and parents can find resources to empower and stand up to bullying. Help make a difference in your life or the life of someone else.

If you or a friend are being bullied and need immediate help, please consult these useful hotlines below:

More Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do kids bully?

    Typically kids bully because they feel bad about something and this is their “upside down” way of dealing with it. They think they will feel better and more powerful if they can push someone else around or hurt them. There are other instances where kids may have seen someone else—in the neighborhood or at home or on TV—being a bully and they are copying them.

  2. What should I do if my child is being a bully?

    There are two important things that we can do when our child is being a bully. First, we need to let them know that it is just not okay to act as a bully. Period. Second, we need to understand why they are acting this way. We may—understandably—feel frustrated and angry. But, this kind of response is not helpful. Sometimes talking with your child helps both you and him or her to understand what is driving this behavior. There are other instances when it is really helpful to confer with your child’s teacher, school counselor or principal or someone you trust from your neighborhood.

  3. Should I keep a record of instances when my child is being bullied?

    Yes, keep a log of the bullying events: when, where, who (including witnesses), what happened. Present this log to the teacher and other school personnel—but not during school hours when other students can see you there. Presenting such a log is an example of how parents and guardians can be upstanders.

  4. If my child is being bullied should I talk to a lawyer?

    Perhaps. We suggest that initially it is important to first talk with the teacher, the principal and other school leaders (e.g. from your school board) in your community. Parents, school board leaders and educators need to work together to promote effective bully prevention and pro-upstander efforts. Working in partnership is the best way to effectively prevent bullying and promote upstander behavior.

    However, there are instances when school leaders may be unresponsive to your concerns. In fact, more and more states do have bully prevention laws. What is clear is that we must protect our children from bullying and this may sometimes necessitate our conferring with lawyers.

  5. If my child is being bullied, might it be their fault in some way?

    Being a victim or target of bullying is never simply the child’s fault. Your first job as a parent or guardian is to protect your child. And, blaming never helps! As we learn about what happened, we certainly want to understand—with the child—about what (if anything) they may be doing—by mistake—to contribute to being picked on. There are rare instances when children do – provocatively and almost intentionally—seek to be picked on or bullied. This is rare and when it seems to be the case, it is always helpful to confer with a school counselor or another mental health professional.

  6. If my child is being bullied, should I allow him or her to stay home from school?

    There may be very rare instances when it is safest for our child to stay home from school for a day or so, but this will never resolve the problem. What is most important is to understand what has happened and whether there’s any pattern. As a parent, we can rarely solve these problems alone; we need to confer with our child’s teachers or school counselors. Optimally, this needs to be a real team effort with teachers and other authority figures from the school.

  7. If I have concerns about bullying, should I go into the school?

    Yes. If you have any concerns and certainly concerns about safety (social-emotional and/or physical) it is always a good idea to confer with educators at your child’s school.

  8. Cyberbulling is a growing concern. How do I keep track of my student’s activities online without invading their privacy?

    Good question. On the one hand this depends, in part on how old and mature your child is. For younger children we need to educate them about what is and is not safe on the internet. When our child begins to use the internet, it is a good idea to track and monitor their activities, just as we track and monitor how they are—gradually—more and more able to walk home from school alone or be independently responsible in any number of ways. Children need to show us that they have been acting responsibly and developing a track record in these areas.

    This question is most complicated for teenagers who are responsible in many ways but do act irresponsibly sometimes. In some ways, this is normal. It is often best to be open about why we are nervous and to discuss our concerns with our kids. This is something that is also always helpful to talk about with other parents and educators from our child’s school. You are not alone in being concerned about this and sometimes, feeling unsure about what to do.

    To learn more about cyberbullying from experts in the field, visit the Resources section.

  9. I’m embarrassed to say that I was a bully at times when I was little. Would this be helpful to talk about with my child?

    What a great question! In fact, in our conversations with parents and guardians across America we have learned that many of us were (or still are!) bullies sometimes. We all make mistakes! In fact, being human means that we make mistakes sometimes. What varies on the other hand is (1) to what extent we recognize and (2) can learn from our mistakes. Talking about moments when we may have been a bully and why this was and what we think about it now can be a very, very powerful way to be a helpful social, emotional and civic teacher.

What is an upstander? Why is it important to consider when we think about bullying?

An upstander is someone who says “no” to bullying. In virtually all bully-victim situations, there are witnesses who view or know about the act. We want to make sure our kids are part of a community where everyone—kids and grownups alike—makes the decision to be an upstander, rather than a passive bystander who does nothing.

Does being an upstander mean that my child (or I) has to directly confront people when they are acting as a bully?

No! There are lots of moments when a child or an adult may feel too scared to directly talk to a bully. There are other ways that kids and adults can be upstanders. A child, for example can tell a teacher.

One of the important activities that Upstanders/student leaders can become involved with is thinking about what will really help in your school. Depending on how much learning and work your school has done in this area, directly confronting the bully may make matters worse! To learn about what students report, see the Youth Voice Project where over 13,000 teens talk about what works and what doesn’t work.

Is “being an upstander” a new idea?

(We are grateful to Marco Stoffel, Ph.D. who first suggested the term Upstanders to us in 2004.)

No. In many ways this is another word for being socially responsible, and being socially responsible is a foundation for democracy. In the words of our founding fathers, “we are only as strong as our weakest members.” We all have a responsibility to pay attention to others who are in trouble and help. In the world of bully prevention, we believe that the first two people to independently write about this are Ron Slaby, Ph.D. (Educational Development Center and Harvard University) and Stu Twemlow, MD (Menninger Foundation and the Baylor College of Medicine).

How I can talk to my child about being an upstander.

Here are some questions that can help to start this kind of important discussion. If being an upstander is something that you value and want your children to understand and practice, these questions will support this process:

  • Have you ever seen a friend or classmate being bullied? What are possible ways you can respond to the situation? How would each way affect other people involved?
  • How would you like others to react if you were being bullied, targeted or excluded?
  • What music, TV shows and movies promote kindness or upstander behavior?
  • What are your special talents? What are special talents of your friends and classmates? Why is it important to be different and work together?
  • How is upstander behavior similar and/or different from being a hero?
  • When you think about our country’s past, who would you consider upstanders? Who are our country’s current upstanders?
  • When have you been an upstander? What is difficult or scary about being an upstander?

How You Can Help Now

There are four things parents and guardians can do now to help children who are experiencing bullying:


Stop and listen when your child is being bullied. We need to take complaints seriously. It's easy to think “bullying toughens kids up in helpful ways,” but it's just not the case. Being bullied—and bullying others—has very serious and negative consequences, and it's a signal that the child is in trouble.


If your child is a victim of bullying, you can offer your help and support in any number of ways. First, it is most important to take immediate steps to protect the target of bullying. If your child is being bullied, confer with other caring adults in your child's life (teacher, counselor or principal)—they are there to be your partners. It is also important to respond to the bully. To get to the root of the issue, we need to understand why the bully is acting this way. Bullies are typically students who are in some sort of trouble and need adult help in addressing unmet needs. Occasionally, educators may not take parental reports of bullying seriously. If this occurs, ask the person why they are not taking this seriously. If their answer does not make sense to you, talk to their supervisor or superior.

Learn and Show

Ask your child about bullying to better understand how it manifests in school. Explain why it's important to be an upstander and point out real life, relevant examples. Make upstander behavior an implicit—or explicit—model of relating with the world. Click here to view some activities educators are using to promote upstander behavior in the classroom.

Partner with Educational Leaders

Parents and guardians can and need to partner with teachers and school administrators to create comprehensive and helpful bully prevention and pro-upstander efforts! We cannot do this alone. Effective effects, by definition, need to be a long-term school-home and community partnership that is committed to recognizing and helpfully addressing bully-victim behavior as well as promoting the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support upstander behavior.


Here is a collection of activities we’ve used with schools to promote upstander behavior. (Note: As helpful as these activities are, remember short term activities that are not a part of a comprehensive bully prevention/pro-upstander efforts will have less rather than more of a helpful impact.) Please download, print and use to fit your classroom needs.

If you’d like more activities, please join the Partner School Program to receive guided activities, tips, and practical excerpts. The Upstander Alliance is also filled with a growing array of guidelines, tools and activities that support middle and high school students being Upstander leaders in your school.

Starting the Conversation with Students:

Before jumping into upstander activities, it’s important to orient your students to what an “upstander” means. Use these questions to link the definition of an “upstander” to real world examples:

  • How is upstander behavior similar and/or different from being a hero?
  • Were leaders of the civil rights movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr. upstanders? If yes, how so? Is this also true do you think of leaders from the woman’s movement, the gay rights movement?
  • When you think about the past (e.g. World War II or our Civil War or any other difficult periods in history) that were the upstanders? What helped or supported their being upstanders rather than passive bystanders?

How Do We Want Our Class to Be?

Many teachers begin the year developing rules and norms for the classroom. One of the most commonly voiced student needs is the need to feel safe (another is the need to have fun). This activity is designed to help you work with students to build a shared understanding of how the class should be and orient them to upstander behavior in a way that’s fun, easy and participatory.

Shifting Gears

The purposes of this activity are to help you focus first on “where you are right now” and then “where you want/need to be” in order to participate as fully as possible in today’s session. Make notes as you work through the process.

It Was Hard and I Did it Anyway

This activity was originally created by a teacher who wanted to help students become aware of their struggles and successes in school and to develop more appreciation and empathy for their peers. It is also something that we can use to underscore that being an upstander is not always easy, but always important.

Passive Bystander Behavior

This workshop is based on the belief that most of us contribute to—inadvertently—bullying and passive bystander behavior in some, often subtle, ways. We don’t identify ourselves as bullies or passive bystanders. Most people don’t. The goal of this exercise is to (a) increase awareness of our own actions, (b) increase awareness of our effect on others, and (c) make a commitment to a next step towards addressing passive bystander behavior.

NSCC’s Best Practices for Creating School-Wide Upstander Efforts

Use these steps to kickstart your own school-wide effort. Make necessary adjustments to fit your own school’s unique strengths and challenges.

What You Can Do To Help

As an Educator, you are a powerful influence on bullying in your school. Below are some tips on steps you can take right now to make a difference in your students' lives:

Please refer to the full NSCC’s educator bully prevention guidelines for more in depth support.

  • What to do before bullying occurs—Preparing for bully-victim behavior is one of the most critical steps that school leaders need to take to prevent bully-victim-bystander behavior. Just as we can and need to prepare for physically dangerous moments, schools must prepare for socially and emotionally dangerous moments, like bully-victim behavior. Responding to kids who are victims or the bullies themselves is extremely important. They both need our help and support. It’s most important that we take immediate steps to protect the target of bullying. Although we may need to discipline the bully, we also must understand why he or she is acting this way. Bullies are typically students who are in some sort of trouble and need adult help to address unmet needs.
  • At the Moment: What do we do?—There are four first steps (1) Stop it; (2) bring the bully (or bullies) and the target(s) to a quite safe place where they can be separated and can be talked to and with; (3) alert the principal or whoever he or she has designated to be in charge of these moments; (4) talk to the bully (or bullies) and the target(s) separately. Learn about what happened. Be attuned to kids who seem vulnerable to bully-victim situations, and make sure each student is connected to at least one caring adult.
  • After Bullying Occurs—Being bullied can be wounding and traumatic. Although we typically do not see an actual physical wound, students need to “clean” the social and emotional wounds that bullying can cause. And, the way that caring adults can promote the healing process is by supporting the student to give voice to the range of feelings and thoughts that they have about the experience. Follow up with students after the incident. Listen, listen and listen in caring ways. When students give voice to how they feel and what they think about the experience of being bullied, it is the equivalent of “cleaning a wound”. As painful as it can be for students to tell about these experiences (and as painful as it can be for adults to listen to this), it is much more complicating and problematic when these feelings, thoughts and memories go “underground” and are not talked about.
  • Developing school-wide upstander efforts—Effective bully prevention efforts need to be grounded in school-wide bully prevention and pro-upstander efforts. Most bully prevention efforts do not incite any real, long-lasting change. Schools can and need to anticipate bully-victim-bystander behavior. To do so, these initiatives must be grounded in a school-wide pro-upstander effort. NSCC provides comprehensive bully prevention supports including workshops, educator tool kits, and keynotes. Learn more and contact us for information.

What Upstander Behavior Looks Like

Although our focus here is on bully-victim behavior, when we walk down the hall and see garbage on the floor, someone who is clearly upset or being bullied, we all make a choice. We either decide to be a passive bystander who does nothing or an upstander who says, “I will do something to help make things better.”

In bully-victim situations, an upstander is someone who recognizes the situation and does something to make it right.

The Influence of Upstanders

A recent report looked at the 37 lethal shootings since 1975, and close to 300 people knew about the attacks. In 4 out of 5 of these violent attacks, student witnesses knew about the plans, but most chose not to tell. * (U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Education and Harvard Medical School's McLean Hospital)

School climate—or the quality and character of school like, that naturally shapes how safe and connected people feel in school—was a major factor in shaping passive bystander or “upstander” behavior. In other words, working to create a safe, caring, connected and responsive school climate can save lives.

Working to create a safe, supportive, and engaging school climate can save lives.

As an educator, you play a central role in creating an environment that is safe, supportive, engaging, and helpfully challenging for all students. A comprehensive—individual, small group, school-wide and school-community wide—effort to prevent bully-victim behavior and promote upstander behavior is a foundation to achieving this goal

Bully-victim behavior is a serious public health problem (U.S. Center for Disease Control). Historically, K-12 bully prevention efforts have focused exclusively on the bully and/or the victim, despite over a decade of research showing how ineffective zero tolerance policies and practices are.

The growing body of research all underscores the same thing: bully-victim behavior is toxic; it undermines K-12 student's capacity to develop and learn in healthy ways. (In fact, when students bully and/or are victimized over time it dramatically increases the likelihood that they will develop significant psychosocial problems.)

Effective bully prevention efforts are ones that actually protect children and adults from harm as well as promoting school wide learning that supports social responsibility: upstander behavior. As we have outlined in Breaking the Bully-Victim-Bystander Cycle Tool Kit schools need to adapt a comprehensive bully prevention/pro-upstander model that supports the following overlapping instructional and school wide improvement goals:

  • Awareness and ongoing attention to the overt and subtle manifestations of harassment, meanness and bully-victim-bystander behavior through school-wide as well as classroom (and morning meeting or Advisory based) meetings.
  • Promote the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support people becoming effective upstanders and in doing so, transforming the culture of the school from a culture of bystanders (active or passive) to upstanders: socially responsible students and adults who (directly or indirectly) say “no” to bully-victim behavior.
  • Develop even more effective parent-educator-mental health partnerships that support adults recognizing students who chonricaly ‘fall into’ the role of bully and/or victim and insuring that the underlying causes of this behvior is helpfully addressed.

On a daily basis in schools across America, bystander behavior is enabling bully-victim behavior to occur. When we transform K-12 schools from a culture of student and adult bystanders into a community where everyone is attuned to the importance of promoting upstander behavior, we will significantly reduce bully-victim behavior. Now is the time to work together to make a difference.

BullyBust: Promoting a Community of Upstanders represents a growing set of tools and guidelines to support you and your students becoming upstanders in creating positive school climates where students can grow and succeed. BullyBust provides one essential component for a comprehensive, schoolwide effort that can and will prevent bully-victim behavior and promote upstander behavior.

Stand Up Pledge

Every day we have the opportunity to make our schools (and our world!) a better place. Putting an end to bullying is everyone’s responsibility. Read the Stand Up Pledge below to see how YOU can help. Join thousands of students and adults from across the country by signing the pledge and becoming an upstander today!

  • Support those around me who are being bullied or victimized. The best way to stand up to bullying is to treat everyone with respect and kindness, especially those of us who are being targeted or bullied. You can make a big difference just by acknowledging the person who is being bullied and letting them know you are there for them!
  • Tell a friend, teacher or parent when I see someone being bullied. When you witness bullying behavior, are a victim of bullying, or are unsure if actions/words are okay, talk to a teacher, parent, or other trusted adult to get support.  Bullying is serious and will not go away on its own.  Speaking up is a very important way to stand up to bullying, and it does not mean you are being a snitch or tattle tale.
  • Ask myself, “how would I want to be treated?” We all want people to be kind, respectful and caring to us. Considering the other person’s feelings before acting or speaking is a helpful way to make sure you are an upstander every day.
  • Note where and when bullying occurs (bathroom, playground, online). Bullying most often happens when and where adults are not present. Be aware, and let the adults in your school and neighborhood know when and where bullying is most common. This is an important step to stop bullying from happening in the future.
  • Do something when I see someone being bullied—be an UPSTANDER! Being an upstander is being a hero: we are standing up for what is right and doing our best to help support someone who is being hurt! Read the 10 Ways to be an Upstander on for more tips about being an upstander. 
  • Understand why bullies bully. Bullies are not bad people; they are just doing bad things! Did you know that most bullies have been bullied at home or in their neighborhood? They often have something else going on in their life that is making them feel really bad, and think that making someone else “hurt” will make them feel better. This does not mean that bully behavior is ok, but understanding this behavior can help get them the adult support they need.
  • Practice being a good role model for my fellow students and share “STAND UP to bullies” strategies. You can make a big difference in your school just by being kind, respectful, and caring to people you meet! Show your friends, parents, and teachers that you are an upstander, and remember that standing up to bullying is everyone’s responsibility.

10 Ways To Be An Upstander

Every single day we each have the opportunity to make our schools (and our world!) a better place. Putting an end to bullying is everyone's responsibility. When we work together and stand strong against bullying, we are creating communities that are stronger, safer, and more supportive - places where every person is valued for who they are. Here's how YOU can help:

  1. Learn more about mean, cruel, and bullying behavior. Educate yourself and your community with the resources on For example: Why do kids bully? Where does bullying take place most often in your school? What are the effects of bullying? How can we prevent it? Understanding this information will help you if you are bullied, and will help you to stand up to bullies if a friend or classmate is being bullied.
  2. Help others who are being bullied. Be a friend, even if this person is not yet your friend. Go over to them. Let them know how you think they are feeling. Walk with them. Help them to talk to an adult about what just happened. (Just think for a moment about how great this would be if someone did this for you when you were being picked on or hurt!)
  3. Stop untrue or harmful messages from spreading online or in person. If someone sends a message or tells you a rumor that you know is untrue, stand up and let the person know it is wrong. Think about how you would feel if someone spread an untrue rumor about you. Don’t laugh, send the message on to friends, or add to the story. Make it clear that you do not think that kind of behavior is cool or funny.
  4. Get friends involved. Share this site (and other related sites) with friends. Let people know that you are an upstander and encourage them to be one too. Sign the Stand Up Pledge, and make it an everyday commitment for you and your friends.
  5. Make friends outside of your circle. Eat lunch with someone who is alone. Show support for a person who is upset at school, by asking them what is wrong or bringing them to an adult who can help.
  6. Be aware of the bullying and upstander policies at your school and keep it in mind when you witness bullying. What are the school’s bully prevention policies? Are there also policies that “catch” kids “being good”? How can you support school rules and codes of conduct support students and adults doing the right thing? If there isn’t a policy, get involved or ask teachers or front office staff to speak about how you can reduce bullying.
  7. Welcome new students. If someone is new at your school, make an effort to introduce them around and make them comfortable. Imagine how you would feel leaving your friends and coming to a new school.
  8. Refuse to be a “bystander” and be a role model to others instead! If you see friends or classmates laughing along with the bully, tell them that they are contributing to the problem. Let them know that kind of behavior is not okay in your school.
  9. Respect others' differences and help others to respect differences. It’s cool for people to be different—that’s what makes all of us unique. Join a diversity club at school to help promote tolerance in your school.
  10. Develop an Upstander/ Prevention program or project with a teacher or principal’s support that will help reduce bullying and promote socially responsible behavior in school. Bring together a team of students, parents and teachers who are committed to preventing bullying, and create a community-wide project to raise awareness, share stories and develop helpful supports. Learn more about how to start an Upstander Alliance at and access free support to sustain your team.

When you’re bullied...

Being bullied is painful, but it is important to remember that you are not alone! Below are some tips on what you can do if you are being bullied.

  • Don’t ignore the whole situation: When you are being bullied, you naturally just want to make it all go away. As a result, some of us just keep everything inside or even avoid going to school! Sometimes the bully does stop and moves on to someone else, but this doesn’t always happen.
  • Always tell an adult you trust: Tell your parent, trusted teacher, school counselor or other trusted adult about what’s happening. Share all of the details, and let them know how this made you feel. Ask them what to do next.
  • Keep in mind that no one deserves to be bullied. Bullies are not bad people, but they are doing bad things. Sometimes kids become bullies because they are bullied at home by their parents and are determined not to be bullied at school—so they bully others instead. Knowing this will help you understand that the bullying doesn’t have to do with you, but with the bully.
  • Never fight back, but let the bully know you are not an easy target. Stay calm, and tell the bully with confidence and determination to “Stop it,” and to “Leave me alone.” Walk off with confidence.
  • Stand up to the bully if you feel ‘safe enough’: This is sometimes easy to say and much harder to do! If you do feel safe enough, confront the bully by telling him or her how you feel, why you feel the way you do, and what you want the bully to do. For example, “I feel angry when you call me names because I have a real name. I want you to start calling me by my real name.”
  • Be an Upstander even when you’re not being bullied. Read the Ways to Be an Upstander to learn about how you can actively fight bullying in your school.
  • Do not respond directly to the bully’s teasing: Sometimes we just feel too scared to respond. Not responding is actually another good strategy that we can use when we are being bullied. To the best of your ability, just walk away! This also an important tip to remember when dealing with bullying online. Keep harmful messages from spreading by not responding, adding comments, or sending them on to friends. (Again, it is important to let an adult know about this. When you are bullied online, print out a copy of the text or picture and show it to a grownup).
  • Don’t blame yourself! It is common for students to feel that they have somehow “caused” the bullying. Remind yourself that it’s not your fault and talk to a friend, adult in school, or parent about the way you feel! Write down your good qualities and discuss them with your family, and use this list as a reminder if you start to blame yourself or feel down.

When you see someone else being bullied...

  • Tell an adult: Some kids think this is tattling or being a snitch, but it is not. When you tell an adult, you are helping someone else who needs support. Most adults really do want to know about bullying and they want to help. If you tell a grownup about this and they don’t respond, find another adult you trust and tell them. Many schools have programs to not only help prevent bullying, but to support people—kids and grownups!—standing up to bully behavior and saying “no, this is not an ok way to act!”
  • Stand Up! See the 10 Ways to be an Upstander in your School.

Do you bully?

Actually, there are a lot of kids who act as a bully at some point in their life. Usually, this is because there is something that is making you feel really bad.* We might think that if we are “really strong” and push people around it will make us feel better. But this is never okay, and pushing people around will only make you and others feel worse. If you have been a bully, talk to an adult you trust. A lot of us are scared to tell a grown up that they have been a bully, but most adults will understand and want to figure out a plan to help you feel better and/or deal with whatever is making you feel bad.

Another very common reason why you may be bullying is that everyone else in your group is doing the same thing. This can make you afraid that if you stop being a bully that you won’t have any friends. Again, it is important to talk to an adult you trust. If you are not sure who to trust, see your school’s counselor, principal, nurse or assistant principal. They are often people in school who not only care, but will have very specific ideas about how best to deal with these kinds of situations.

* If there are problems at home, please talk with a trusted adult. For an anonymous and confidential conversation, consider reaching out to Prevent Child Abuse.

What is bullying?

In recent years, bullying has often been defined as an imbalance of power and occurs when a person or a group of people hurt, scare and/or are mean to someone else (or a group) on purpose, usually more than once.

In fact, it is sometimes very difficult to know if one person or a group is “stronger” and/or whether the person or group is purposefully trying to be mean and cruel. As a result, we suggest that we think about “mean, cruel and/or bullying behaviors”. The bottom line is that no one wants others to treat them in mean, cruel and/or bullying ways! We all need to be learning and teaching in safe, respectful and civic classrooms and schools.

What is an upstander?

An “upstander” is someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When an upstander sees or hears about someone being bullied, they speak up. Being an upstander is being a hero: we are standing up for what is right and doing our best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt. In many ways, this is another word for being socially responsible.

Types of bullying:

There are all kinds of ways that people bully others. Here are the most common ways that people act as bullies:

  • Shoving, punching, pushing or other ways of hurting people physically
  • Leaving someone out of your group on purpose
  • Ganging up on others. This can be done without being physical or with words. It can be done with mean 'stares' too.
  • Teasing or being mean or inconsiderate in other ways verbally—with words. One of the most common ways that people do this is spreading bad rumors
  • Cyber bullying: Cyber bullying is when kids bully others using texting, email or other technology. Some of the most common examples include: sending hurtful messages, and posting pictures or untrue messages on web sites, blogs or social networks, like Facebook and MySpace.

Why do students bully?

There are lots of reasons that students bully. First of all, too often students see adults being bullies! Sometimes, they think, “if they are doing, I will too!” Here are some other common reasons why students bully:

  • Students sometimes feel that when others in their group are a bully that they need to be too, so they continue to bully to be accepted by the group.
  • When we feel bad about ourselves (for any number of reasons!) being a bully can make us feel 'stronger' in the short run
  • Sometimes people are afraid that if they are not a bully, someone else will bully them! Bullies are often being bullied on other ways—by parents or siblings at home, by teachers, or by others from their neighborhood—and they become a bully to let out their hurt and anger.

Thanks to the funding and support of our board of trustees* and the following partners, BullyBust is able to provide critical resources and programs to directly support schools-in-need nationwide:

WICKED the Musical

Wicked is "The Best Musical of the Decade" (Entertainment Weekly), and our proud partner for National Bully Prevention Month in October 2010. We are working with Wicked to provide students and adults with curricula, classroom activities and exciting ways to reduce bullying and promote upstander behavior. Elphaba, the star of the musical, is our 2010 spokesperson, and she will be promoting our supports through videos, tips and educational activities. Educators in the Partner Schools Program will have access to an Upstander Toolkit and opportunities to engage their students in a national contest.

Satya Jewelry

Satya Jewelry is more than just an accessory line; it’s jewelry with meaning. Satya means truth in Sanskrit and it is the guiding force behind all we do. Each and every piece is created to empower and inspire the wearer with sacred symbols and semiprecious stones. A portion of every sale is donated to The Satya Foundation, which has raised over $1 million for children’s charities throughout the world. You can Stand Up to Bullying in style with the "For Good" necklace, and 50% of the proceeds will support BullyBust's work with schools nationwide.

Stacy Igel

Stacy Igel is the Founder/Creative Director and Chief Brand Ambassador of Boy Meets Girl®, a stylish yet casually classic designer brand. Boy Meets Girl® is celebrated on television shows like Gossip Girl, the Vampire Diaries, America's Next Top Model and by high profile fashionistas like Eva Mendes, Rachel Bilson, Anne Hathaway, and Kristen Bell. In 2009, Stacy teamed up with Bloomingdales and teen celebrity Sammi Hanratty to design a special Boy Meets Girl BullyBust t-shirt to raise awareness for the cause and garner key funds for bully prevention supports.She continues to be a true advocate for the cause to this day.

Flip Video

Flip Video, the company behind the popular handheld camcorders, has joined forces with BullyBust and Wicked to develop a custom camcorder for National Bully Prevention Month. The branding will celebrate the importance of upstander behavior and empower students to use technology for good. BullyBust has also been selected for Flip’s Spotlight Program, through which we are able to provide Partner Schools with free camcorders through a matching program.

Get Your Custom WICKED FLIP!
Check out all the designs and pick yours today!


As beneficiary of the YouTube Nonprofits program, Bullybust videos receive spotlight promotion through the website, and we receive premium branding capabilities and the opportunity to drive fundraising and call-to-action messaging through the BullyBust channel:


Google featured us on their national digital literacy tour last fall and is developing short video messages featuring BullyBust content for educators and students online.Google also awarded us $10,000 worth of free advertising each month.

BullyBust Ambassadors

Thanks to celebrity supporters and students leaders, the supports of BullyBust spread far and wide across the Internet. Featured at left is Sammi Hanratty, star of the HBO movie about bullying, An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong, and A Christmas Carol. Sammi has been instrumental in sharing why it’s important (and cool) to be an upstander, and directing students to the supports and opportunities for involvement at our website.

*Please visit our sister site to see a complete list of NSCC’s board of trustees

BullyBust: Promoting a Community of Upstanders is nationwide bully prevention awareness effort launched by NSCC in 2009. BullyBust is designed to help students and adults become “upstanders”—people who stand up to bullying and become part of the solution to end harmful harassment, teasing, and violence in our nation's schools. BullyBust promotes valuable free supports to help schools-in-need put an end to bullying with targeted school-wide and classroom-based efforts. This site includes research-based resources for students, parents, and educators for addressing bullying incidences effectively and creating a culture of upstanders inside and out of school.

BullyBust: Promoting a Community of Upstanders is one essential component of a comprehensive and effective bully prevention effort. NSCC’s bully prevention/pro-Upstander efforts are aligned with the U.S Department of Education’s guidelines for effective bully prevention practices.

About NSCC

The National School Climate Center (NSCC) is an organization that helps schools integrate crucial social, emotional and civic learning with academic instruction to enhance student performance, prevent drop outs, reduce violence, and develop healthy and positively engaged adults. To learn more about us and receive our resources, sign up for our free quarterly e-newsletter and check out our blog.

STAND UP to Bullying—Start an Upstander Alliance at your school today!

The Upstander Alliance provides free resources to help student teams, in collaboration with adult moderators at the school, create targeted community-wide engagement projects focused on preventing bullying and raising awareness. Through the Alliance, team members will have access to detailed tools for creating and sustaining their group, opportunities to connect with artists, experts, and youth leaders who are making a difference, and will also be able to share their experiences with other Alliances across the country. Download the free toolkits and get started now.

Download Free Toolkit ›

BullyBust Honors WICKED

This year BullyBust and the National School Climate Center bring you, the BullyBust Outstanding Ambassador Award, which recognizes a key figure or organization that has gone above and beyond to help raise awareness for the BullyBust cause, and bring critical prevention supports to schools nationwide.  WICKED received this special honor because of the show's dedication to BullyBust and continued collaboration in helping to create concrete bully prevention resources for schools-in-need, including the Stand Up to Bullying supplements and "Defying Gravity" essay contest in 2010-11 and the Upstander Alliance toolkits and "For Good" video contest for this school year. Congratulations!

View Photos ›

“Defying Gravity” Essay Contest Winners

BULLYBUST would like to congratulate the winners of our “Defying Gravity” Essay contest—each one a shining example of Upstanders in Action!

Grand Prize WinnerAmmie, a freshman at La Cresent High School in Minnesota will be traveling to New York City this spring to see WICKED the musical LIVE on Broadway. She will also receive a custom WICKED/BullyBust Flip with a special video message from Elphaba!

Sarina from Cooley Ranch Elementary in Colton, California
Whitney from Meyersdale Area High School in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania
Natalie from Warwick Valley Middle School in Warwick, New York

Each finalist will receive gift baskets of WICKED treats that included a custom-designed WICKED/BullyBust FLIP camcorder.

Read More ›

No matter what happens, though, we just need to stay strong. Things and people will come along who don't want us to fly, and we just have to block them out.
—Excerpt from winning essay

Video Announcement from Elphaba

View a special announcement from BullyBust spokesperson, Elphaba from the hit Broadway show WICKED! Learn how you can be an Upstander today.

Broadway Show WICKED Teams Up with BullyBust!

The National School Climate Center (NSCC) is proud to be partnering with the Broadway musical WICKED to bring the Witches of Oz to life in classrooms across the country with critical bully prevention supports for the fall 2010 BullyBust Campaign. Elphaba, the misunderstood green witch at the heart of WICKED, will help students learn how to put an end to bullying for good as the spokesperson for BullyBust. Schools can get involved with the cause by joining the Partner School Program, which will provide classroom-based supports including WICKED-themed activities, resources, and a national “Defying Gravity” essay contest this fall.

Show your support for the cause! Use the code "CSEE" when purchasing tickets for WICKED on Broadway (online or at the box office), and a portion of the sale goes back to BullyBust! Read the full press release here.

BullyBust is an awareness campaign designed to reduce bullying in schools by teaching students and adults how to stand up to bullying and promote upstander behavior. An upstander is someone who witnesses bully behavior and does something about it. Use the resources on to transform your school or community from one of passive bystanders to a community of positive upstanders. Together we can put an end to bullying!

Educators, get critical supports for your school and join a dedicated community of schools nationwide: Sign up for the Partner School Program today.