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Supporting Adults to Address Aggression and Bullying Among Children

Statement of Problem

Bullying—defined as intentional aggressive behavior that typically occurs (or has the potential to occur) repeatedly over time, in the context of a power differential—is widely experienced by school-aged youth and is a common problem in schools. Bullying is associated with numerous negative impacts for all youth, including those who are perpetrators, victims and bystanders. This can include social and emotional difficulties, depression, anxiety, and negative educational and health outcomes. Higher bullying levels in schools can also negatively impact perceptions of safety and how victims and bystanders cope and respond to bullying experiences.

Bullying can be prevented or inadvertently condoned based on adults’ attitudes towards and responses to these behaviors, marking the significance of involving adults in prevention and intervention efforts. 

Teachers are particularly impactful supports and change agents for children. Research suggests the importance of training teachers to effectively manage behaviors in their classrooms and intervene with bullying, however, few programs include this type of training. This creates gaps in teachers’ knowledge, attitudes, and skills regarding their role in behavior management as it relates to bullying, which can contribute to inaction and unintentional approval, yielding increased bullying and classrooms that feel less safe. Thus, teacher interventions are key for reducing bullying behaviors.

Parents are also critically important influences on children’s social-emotional health. Children learn rules for social behaviors from parents that provide the foundation for their own social behaviors throughout life, including bullying. Research shows that anti-bullying programs are most effective when parents are included, and their involvement positively impacts children’s behavioral competence and mental health. Unfortunately, few bullying prevention programs successfully involve parents. 


Next Steps

A multi-site, 32-school (50% of schools located in Philadelphia) effectiveness trial of the BCCU is currently underway with funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Findings from this trial will guide future research and dissemination efforts. We also seek to broaden the dissemination and evaluation of our parent workshops and increase the historically limited parent participation in anti-bullying efforts.

Additionally, in an effort to empower a range of adults to help children navigate peer difficulties, we seek to combine systems of support to strengthen program effects, including programming for non-teaching staff (e.g., playground and lunchroom supervisors) and other needed supports gleaned from qualitative feedback from school and community stakeholders.  

This project page was last updated in October 2023. 

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Supporting Adults to Address Aggression and Bullying Among Children [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here]. 

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