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December 2020


What is the research on effective strategies for reducing bullying based on race, ethnicity, or national origin (including in-person and electronic or virtual bullying)?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


Bajaj, M., Ghaffar-Kucher, A., & Desai, K. (2016). Brown bodies and xenophobic bullying in US schools: Critical analysis and strategies for action. Harvard Educational Review, 86(4), 481–505. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"In this essay, Monisha Bajaj, Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, and Karishma Desai present an evidence-based action project that seeks to interrupt and transform bullying behaviors directed at South Asian American youth in schools in the United States. In the context of this essay and project, they argue that larger macro-level forces which promote misinformation about youth who inhabit brown bodies have given rise to bullying and, in some cases, harassment and hate crimes in schools. Conventional literature on bullying offers inadequate frames for how the forces of Islamophobia—which affect all those perceived to be Muslim—and bullying come together to shape realities for South Asian American youth in schools. The authors advance new frameworks and strategies for understanding xenophobic and bias-based bullying and explore schools as sites of possibility to interrupt Islamophobia and misinformation about South Asian Americans."

Cabral, N., Gordon, M., & Leighninger, M. (2018). Addressing incidents of bias in schools: A guide for preventing and reacting to discrimination affecting students. New York, NY: Public Agenda.

From the Abstract:
"There is a growing concern about discrimination and hate crimes taking place across the country. While incidents of bias can occur anywhere, it is especially troubling when it happens in our schools. Discussing race and discrimination can be difficult for the most seasoned of professionals, however, that discomfort should not prevent important conversations from taking place. This guide is designed to bring together a school community in order to address and prevent incidents of bias, discrimination, and hate crimes. It includes suggestions for facilitating the discussions so that they are safe, illuminating and productive, as well as for organizing the process so that it fits in the daily rhythm of the school community."

Chatters, S. J., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2018). Bullying prevention and prejudice reduction: assessing the outcome of an integrative training program. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 74(1), 20-37. Full text available at

From the Abstract:
"Research denotes the importance of the social interest theory–based concept of acceptance of others as a key factor in increasing positive attitudes toward helping victims of bullying. However, to date, few bullying prevention programs have explicitly integrated instruction to reduce prejudice. Although most teachers will witness or experience bias-based bullying in the schools they will join as professional educators, most students are rarely exposed to these types of programs. This study investigated the effect of integrating bullying prevention and prejudice reduction content into a prevention program. Pre- and post-intervention outcomes are reported on the basis of instruments that measured bullying and prejudicial attitudes. Results showed significant changes according to these measures. Implications for the use of integrated programs are presented."

Earnshaw, V. A., Reisner, S. L., Menino, D. D., Poteat, V. P., Bogart, L. M., Barnes, T. N., & Schuster, M. A. (2018). Stigma-based bullying interventions: A systematic review. Developmental Review, 48, 178-200. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"Youth living with socially devalued characteristics (e.g., minority sexual orientation, race, and/or ethnicity; disability; obesity) experience frequent bullying. This stigma-based bullying undermines youths’ wellbeing and academic achievement, with lifelong consequences. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based interventions to address stigma-based bullying. To characterize the existing landscape of these interventions, we conducted a systematic review of stigma-based bullying interventions targeting youth in any country published in the peer-reviewed literature between 2000 and 2015. Our analysis was guided by a theoretical framework of stigma-based bullying, which describes stigma-related factors at the societal, structural, interpersonal, and individual levels that lead to stigma-based bullying. We screened 8,240 articles and identified 22 research studies describing 21 interventions addressing stigma-based bullying. We found that stigma-based bullying interventions are becoming more numerous, yet are unevenly distributed across stigmas, geographic locations, and types of organizations. We further found that these interventions vary in the extent to which they incorporate theory and have been evaluated with a wide range of research designs and types of data. We recommend that future work address stigma-based bullying within multicomponent interventions, adopt interdisciplinary and theory-based approaches, and include rigorous and systematic evaluations. Intervening specifically on stigma-related factors is essential to end stigma-based bullying and improve the wellbeing of youth living with socially devalued characteristics."

Gage, N. A., Prykanowski, D. A., & Larson, A. (2014). School climate and bullying victimization: A latent class growth model analysis. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(3), 256–271. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"Researchers investigating school-level approaches for bullying prevention are beginning to discuss and target school climate as a construct that (a) may predict prevalence and (b) be an avenue for school-wide intervention efforts (i.e., increasing positive school climate). Although promising, research has not fully examined and established the social-ecological link between school climate factors and bullying/peer aggression. To address this gap, we examined the association between school climate factors and bullying victimization for 4,742 students in Grades 3–12 across 3 school years in a large, very diverse urban school district using latent class growth modeling. Across 3 different models (elementary, secondary, and transition to middle school), a 3-class model was identified, which included students at high-risk for bullying victimization. Results indicated that, for all students, respect for diversity and student differences (e.g., racial diversity) predicted within-class decreases in reports of bullying. High-risk elementary students reported that adult support in school was a significant predictor of within-class reduction of bullying, and high-risk secondary students report peer support as a significant predictor of within-class reduction of bullying."

Hall, W. J., & Chapman, M. V. (2018). Fidelity of implementation of a state antibullying policy with a focus on protected social classes. Journal of School Violence, 17(1), 58-73. Retrieved

From the Abstract:
"Bullying threatens the mental and educational well-being of students. All states have enacted antibullying laws. This study surveyed 634 educators about the implementation of the North Carolina School Violence Prevention Act, which enumerated social classes protected from bullying: race, national origin, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, appearance, and disability. Results showed that local antibullying policies most often included race as a protected class and least often included sexual orientation and gender identity. More educators had been trained on bullying based on race than any other social class. Students were more often informed that bullying based on race was prohibited and were least often informed about prohibitions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Reporting, investigating, and remediating bullying was highest for racial bullying, followed by disability bullying, and was lowest for bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity."

Klein, W. (2015). Responding to bullying: Language socialization and religious identification in classes for Sikh youth. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 14(1), 19-35. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"Drawing from ethnography of communication and language socialization approaches, this paper examines classes on bullying held for Sikh middle school students at a Sikh religious institution in California. Sikh educational programs play an important role in socializing youth into Sikh teachings, practices, and community perspectives. Due to one practice in particular, wearing a "dastaar" (turban), some Sikh youth have been harassed by their non-Sikh peers. After discussing the significance of the dastaar in Sikh life, this paper analyzes interactions in classes on bullying in which Sikh youth enacted role-plays provided by the teachers. In the discussions that followed the role-plays, teachers and students evaluated the actions of the bullying victim and weighed the consequences of a wide range of interactional moves in reacting to harassment. Participants' assessments of bullying-response strategies reveal the tensions and challenges that Sikh youth face in managing the process of religious identification in their everyday lives."

Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Breivik, K. (2019). Addressing specific forms of bullying: A large-sale evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1, 1. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in reducing specific forms of bullying—verbal bullying, physical bullying, and indirect/relational bullying, as well as cyberbullying and bullying using words or gestures with a sexual meaning. This large-scale longitudinal study, which involved more than 30,000 students in grades 3–11 from 95 schools in central and western Pennsylvania over the course of 3 years, employed a quasi-experimental extended age-cohort design to examine self-reports of being bullied, as well as bullying others. Findings revealed that the OBPP was successful in reducing all forms of being bullied and bullying others. Analyses by grade groupings (grades 3–5, 6–8, and 9–11) revealed that, with only a few exceptions, there were significant program effects for all forms of bullying for all grade groupings. For most analyses, program effects were stronger the longer the program was in place. Most analyses indicated similar and substantial effects for both boys and girls, but a number of program by gender interactions were observed. Program effects for Black and White students were similar for most forms of being bullied and bullying others. Although Hispanic students showed results that paralleled the development for Black and White students for particular grade groups and variables, they were overall somewhat weaker. The study provided strong support for the effectiveness of the OBPP among students in elementary, middle, and early high school grades. Program effects were broad, substantial, and largely consistent, covering all forms of bullying—verbal, physical, indirect, bullying through sexual words and gestures, and, with somewhat weaker effects, cyberbullying—both with regard to being bullied and bullying others. Strengths and limitations of the study, as well as future research directions, are discussed."

Mthethwa-Sommers, S., & Kisiara, O. (2015). Listening to students from refugee backgrounds: Lessons for education professionals. Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, 12(1), 1-9.

From the Abstract:
"This article is based on a study that examined how students from refugee backgrounds cope with victimization and bullying in three urban high schools in the United States. Qualitative methods of data collection and analysis were employed. Twelve high school students from refugee backgrounds participated in the study, which involved focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using the process of coding. Students reported a wide range of victimization and bullying experiences from verbal to physical assaults. Further, students reported multiple ways of coping with victimization and bullying. The study provides practical lessons for teachers and administrators to mitigate bullying among refugee students."

Moran, M., Midgett, A., & Doumas, D. M. (2020). Evaluation of a brief, bystander bullying intervention (STAC) for ethnically blended middle schools in low-income communities. Professional School Counseling, 23(1), 1-12. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"We evaluated a brief, bystander bullying intervention (STAC) adapted for ethnically blended, low-income middle schools. We examined changes in bullying victimization and bias-based bullying victimization among a sample of sixth-grade students using a mixed factorial design. Students reported a significant decrease in bullying victimization and bias-based bullying victimization from baseline to a 6-week follow-up, with no differences between White students and students of color. In this article, we discuss implications for school counselors."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Bullying, Cyberbullying OR "cyber bullying", Racial OR race, Ethnic OR ethnicity, Minority, Bias-based, Identity-based, Prevention, Intervention OR intervention, Strategies OR strategy

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.