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A Comprehensive Approach to Bullying Prevention

What to do if your child is being bullied

In Wisconsin, the state statute that addresses bullying 118.46 requires two things of public school districts: That they have an anti-bullying policy and that they share that policy with parents and guardians yearly. Please note that this statute does not apply to private or non-public charter schools.

The state statute does not:

  • Require district to respond in a particular manner
  • Require districts to implement bullying prevention curriculum or activities
  • Provide authority to DPI to monitor or intervene on bullying reports and concerns
  • Provide for a state level complaint process

If your child or family member is being bullied we suggest the following steps. Please keep in mind that as a local control education state, the state statutes vest the power of most decisions to the locally elected school board.

  1. File a bullying report with the child’s teacher or school
    1. Ask what the school’s procedure is for reporting bullying
  2. If you feel your concern has not been handled properly, we suggest that you move your complaint up the “chain of command”:
    1. Start with your child’s teacher
    2. School Principal
    3. District administrator or superintendent
    4. School board
  3. During this process you can request to see the school’s anti-bullying policy
  4. If you feel that your concerns are not being addressed you may also ask to file a formal complaint with the district. Ask them for the form or process to do so.

Concurrent with this process:

  • If you feel that your child has been harmed and that a crime has been committed toward them, you may file a report with your local police department
  • Keep records of all of your communications; follow up phone conversations with a summary email
  • Seek support from the school counselor, school social worker or school psychologist

State statute provides parents and guardians with another option. Wisconsin offers Open Enrollment and generally has a window of time for parents and guardians to apply. If you are applying because of bullying concerns, however, this enrollment period is waived and you can apply at any time. Find more information about Open Enrollment

  • If you believe that the bullying is occurring due to sex, race, religion, national origin (including a student whose primary language is not English), ancestry, creed, pregnancy, parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, physical disability, mental disability, emotional disability, learning disability, you may have recourse under state statute 118.13 Pupil Non-discrimination. You can find more information about Pupil Nondiscrimination here
Resources for Parents

Information for parents of students who have been bullied.
Versions in: English Spanish Hmong

NEW: Awareness and Prevention of School-Based Bullying Online Training Program

The Student Services Prevention and Wellness Team (SSPW), in collaboration with Dr. Chad Rose at the University of Missouri, is offering a free, online bullying prevention training course for Wisconsin educators and Wisconsin out-of-school time programs!

This four-module course can be completed by an individual in approximately two hours. The four modules provide foundational knowledge of bullying prevention:

Module 1: What is Bullying?
Module 2: Who is at Risk?
Module 3: What can we do?
Module 4: What do we HAVE to do?

Access to this course requires each individual to have a licensed link. This is not a group course. It is for individuals to complete. To reserve licenses for the Awareness and Prevention of School-Based Bullying online training please use this link.

Bullying Definition

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
 -  An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
 -  Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
("What is Bullying"

State and school district requirements in Wisconsin State Statute 118.46 Policy on Bullying


Bullying Prevention Program Assessment Tool

Whether you are new to this topic or a veteran of bullying prevention, the best place to start is to get a clear picture of just how comprehensive your approach is. The Bullying Prevention Program Assessment Tool will walk a school team through the nine components that are necessary to implement an effective bullying prevention initiative.

Comprehensive Bullying Prevention Resource Map

Once you have identified your needs the Comprehensive Bullying Prevention Resource Map will provide you with links to examples, tools, forms, and training resources to address your school’s gaps in programming. This resource map is structured just like the assessment tool, making it easy to locate resources that correspond to your areas of need.

Bullying Prevention within a Multi-Level System of Support

This tool explains bullying prevention in a three-tiered system of support. This tool shows strategies at the Universal, Tier 2, and Tier 3 levels.

DPI's Model Bullying Policy

Each school board must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying by pupils. The school board may adopt this policy and is required to distribute the policy annually to all pupils enrolled in the school district and to their parents or guardians. The school board is to provide a copy of the policy to any person who requests it. For a webcast on this topic see: Safe and Respectful Schools: Policy on Bullying

Curriculum, Grades 9-12

Bullying Prevention Curriculum: Rethink, Units for Grades 9-12 aims to expand students’ understanding of the dynamics of bullying behavior in the school and broader community. The seven lessons included help students critically examine influences in the school, community, and peer groups that contribute to or support bullying. This publication can be accessed here


Bullying Prevention Grant

Bullying prevention grant opportunity for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations to provide training and an online bullying prevention curriculum for pupils in kindergarten-8th grades.

Preventing Bullying and Harassment of Students Perceived as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

Students perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are at much higher risk than peers for bullying and harassment at school and elsewhere. This resource includes recommended strategies to create safe schools for these students and their peers. For a webcast on this topic see Safe Schools: Preventing and Addressing Anti-Gay Bullying and Harassment

Conflict vs Bullying Chart

Conflict vs Bullying Activity

Conflict vs Bullying Scenarios

Cyberbullying Research Center


National Organization Releases Consensus Report on Bullying

A group of federal agencies and philanthropic partners asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to appoint a committee of experts to review the wealth of research on bullying that is now available and identify what else must be done to better understand and reduce bullying and its consequences. Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice (May 2016)

Pupil Non-Discrimination Program

Pupil harassment, a form of discrimination, is behavior towards pupils based on a protected class that substantially interferes with a pupil's school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment. (PI 9.02(9), Wis. Admin. Code). Many instances of bullying may also be harassment. The pupil nondiscrimination program provides technical assistance to local school districts, parents and school district residents on matters relating to nondiscrimination and equality of educational opportunity under state law and related federal laws, and the pupil discrimination complaint and appeal process under state law and rules. (Section 118.13, Wis. Stats. and PI 9, Wis. Admin. Code).

Fact Sheet on Combating Discrimination Against Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA)

2020 Bullying Prevention Webinars 

Building a Multi-Tiered System of Support: Foundations for Bully Prevention
October 13, 2020 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Bullying is regarded as a significant public health concern for school-aged youth. Current bully prevention recommendations include situating interventions within multi-tiered systems of support framework. Therefore, this session will highlight bully prevention interventions that can be embedded into each tier, with a particular emphasis in tiers two and three. Additionally, this session will outline how skill-based interventions, such as social and communication skill interventions, can be interwoven throughout the daily curriculum, as well as serve as vehicles for reducing bullying among those most at-risk. Participants will leave this session with a number of new strategies that can be embedded at the classroom, small group, or individual levels.
Recognize, Report, and Respond: Conducting a Systematic Bullying Investigation
January 21, 2021 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
All 50 states and Washington D.C. have enacted legislation related to bullying and bully prevention. Unfortunately, these legislative efforts do not provide direction for conducting investigations or implementing bully prevention programming at the state, district, or school level. The foundation for any school- or district-wide bully prevention plan is the investigative process. This session will include three components. First, participants will learn how to recognize bullying, and differentiate it from other forms of peer aggression. Second, this session will provide examples of different reporting protocols that can be used by students, teachers, and parents. Finally, this session will outline an investigative protocol, where participants will be provided with a framework for conducting investigations and responding to reported bullying incidents.


For questions about this information, contact Beth Herman (608) 267-9242