Why Do Students Engage in Bullying?

students on campus bullying As bullying occurs more and more frequently on college and university campuses, it’s essential to have strategies and programs in place to combat it. Last week, we discussed five of the potential reasons college students engage in bullying:

  1. There is less control and authority over students.
  2. The anonymity of the internet.
  3. To cope with their own problems.
  4. Students spend more time together.
  5. Colleges and universities are high pressure environments.

And today, we are going to review some of the best strategies for helping students who have been bullied and also how you can put those strategies to work at your campus.

What Strategies Work Best to Help Students Who Are Bullied?

Researchers from the Youth Voice Project worked on a report to measure students’ perceptions about strategy effectiveness to reduce peer mistreatment in schools. They identified several strategies that younger students felt had a positive impact.

It helps if students have safe means for communicating with adults about their negative peer interactions. In fact, reaching out to an authority figure who was able to give positive support was one of the most effective ways to help a student who has been bullied.

Positive support includes listening to the students, checking in with them to see how they are doing, but on the other hand, when adults, such as teachers, dismissed the students’ concerns or failed to take them seriously, students reported this had a negative effect.

But the most significant strategy that helped students who experienced bullying was support from their peers. According to the researchers:

“Both staff and peers gave significantly positive support through connection, encouragement, affiliation, and listening. The effect of peer support and affiliation was even more powerful than that of staff affiliation. Students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions helpful than educator or self-actions.”

The researchers also identified the some of the different types of support from peers that made a difference:

  • Spending time with the student
  • Talking to him/her
  • Helping him/her get away
  • Giving advice

How to Put These Strategies Into Practice

Now, it’s time to take these strategies and find ways to put them into practice at your campus. And since peer support is one of the most effective solutions for supporting students who have been bullied, it’s important to teach all your students on campus about bystander intervention.

Students need to be able to identify bullying and feel empowered to take safe action against it when they see or experience it. Bystander intervention helps to get everyone involved and makes it harder for the bullies to isolate a single student.

Additionally, faculty and staff need training that helps teach them how to respond to bullying and offer support and guidance when a student reports they’ve been a victim of bullying.

The University at Buffalo has a guide with more ways to combat and respond to bullying on campus which includes:

  • Promoting an inclusive culture where students feel connected because they are more likely to report threats and bullying behaviors on campus.
  • Urging students to talk to someone on campus, such as a faculty member or resident advisor, if they experience or witness bullying.
  • Educating students on the best practices for safely using technology, including changing their passwords and locking their screens.

For more information on how to address cyberbullying, check out a previous blog post we wrote on the topic.


Bullying is a problem that extends long after high school ends, and it’s important that college and university campuses step up and take action against it.

To do this, it’s helpful to understand why students bully each other and what strategies are most effective for responding to bullying. Because once you do, you can create a plan for your campus.

Interested in learning more about our bullying prevention training for students on your campus? Schedule your demo today.

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