We all have some first hand experience of it: As bystander, as one of the bullies or as the targeted one. Or perhaps as a parent or a concerned educator. Bullying hurts. It is an act of harm-doing. Someone or some are inflicting pain on another person, knowingly and intentionally. Those who do it are aware that it in most societies is unacceptable, but they also know that they usually can get away with it. They do it not only once or twice but persistently, again and again. This is the face of bullying.

Being bullied is traumatic. When it goes on for any length of time, the psychological trauma can be deep for the exposed person. Depression, anxiety, difficulties in relation to school work and later working life, as well as difficulties trusting and relating to other people are known effects. Suicide is sometimes seen as the only way out of it. Bullying should be classified as a type II trauma, in the same category as psychological war-zone trauma, domestic violence, rape and incest.

A lot is known about this phenomenon from scientific studies. We know how widespread it is, under what circumstances it most likely to happen, its causes and how we can work to stop it. Still, myths and misleading strategies flourish. Bogus and biased research mislead governments and school authorities.

In the following pages (also listed to the left) you will find some essential pieces of the knowledge on which the Olweus Program has been developed. Let us start with the definition of bullying...