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What is bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior towards a person that often happens again and again. Bullying includes teasing, name calling, written and verbal abuse, threats, physical assault, and other hurtful behavior. Bullying is meant to threaten or intimidate the victim.

Dealing with bullying or a bully can be extremely difficult for people of any age. Bullies are found in schools, where people work, and in the community. Bullying can make a person’s life miserable.

Who is at risk of bullying?

While everyone is at risk of bullying, people with developmental disabilities are at higher risk. For example, children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than nondisabled children. People with disabilities are more likely to be victims than others, including those who have:

  • autism
  • epilepsy
  • intellectual disabilities
  • a stutter or have difficulty speaking
  • medical conditions that can be seen by others (like cerebral palsy)

What are the effects of bullying?

Bullying can cause serious harm and should not be taken lightly. It can result in physical injury, emotional distress, and even death. Individuals who are victims of bullying are at increased risk for depression and anxiety, resulting in poor performance both at school and at work.


What to do?

If bullying is happening at school, discuss the problem with the teacher, principal, or counselor.

When bullying is directed at a student because of their disability, under Federal law, schools are required to take action to both protect the student and prevent bullying.




** Excerpts taken from a Publication of the California Department of Developmental Services


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