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Reporting on Bullying
Talk about it!
Bullying & Suicide

In your stories about bullying remember that most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors. Many factors play into suicidal behavior such as depression, problems at home, and a history of trauma. Although bullying can make these factors more severe it may not be the root cause.

Learn more about suicide and bullying here!

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If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Press 1 for Veteran Services.

iStock_depressionBullying is defined as unwanted aggressive behavior that represents a real or perceived imbalance of power amongst school aged children. Although it is sometimes considered a normal part of adolescence, bullying is far from acceptable and can lead to depression, failing grades, truancy, and even self harm by the victims. 

Parents, teachers, and peers all have a role in putting and end to bullying. Reporting on bullying incidents in ways that increase awareness and provide tools to deal with the situation is key to starting conversations amongst these groups that can prevent negative consequences and continued victimization. 

Coverage that includes bullying can be complex and sometimes uncomfortable for your audience, but it plays an important role in promoting understanding of what is, unfortunately, a reality for many children. When your stories concern bullying, consider these suggestions:
  • There are two sides to every story. Oftentimes, a bully is dealing with insecurities or problems at home that are causing them to act out negatively towards others. In your coverage, consider ways that you can explore both sides of the story and possibly showcase helping the bully as a way to ultimately stop the harassment of the victim.
  • Kids can often be afraid to come forward or are embarrassed to tell their parents that they are being bullied. Think about ways to point out the positive outcomes that occur when adults get involved and encourage readers to start the conversation about bullying with their own kids.
  • In your stories, remember to include details that help inform what parents and kids should do when someone is involved in a bullying situation. For example, identify the school contact for reporting bullying including their phone number and where their office is located.

Why don't kids
ask for help?

Studies show that only a third of bullying cases that happen are actually reported. Here are a few examples of why kids choose not to tell adults:

  • Feelings of helplessness and a loss of control can prevent kids from seeking outside help. Sometimes they believe that dealing with the problem themselves will make them feel in control again.
  • Retaliation from their bully is a fear many children experience when considering reaching out for help.
  • Victims of bullying can often feel embarrassed and will avoid telling their parents or teachers about it.
  • Kids will often feel socially isolated when they are being bullied leading them to fear that even if they did come forward nobody would care about or understand what they are going through.


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