What is Bullying?


ullying is aggressive behavior that most commonly takes place between school-aged children. It may be physical or psychological, but all bullying is unwanted. It always includes perceived power imbalances: Students bullied are often made to feel unpopular or “outcast.”

Bullying can persist into adulthood, especially in the workplace. It is most prevalent in environments with strict hierarchy of authority. Contributions and viewpoints of the victims are minimized to exercise control over them.

Clinical Trials on the Effects of Bullying

Adult bullying can contribute to a toxic work environment and may feed into criminal behaviors like assault. Becoming the victim of a bully can damage a person’s career, especially if the bully is a supervisor.

“Cyberbullying” refers to a similar pattern of intimidating behavior brought online. It happens most frequently among young people on social media platforms and mobile apps. However, organized online harassment and “trolling” can be considered forms of bullying.

What Conditions is Bullying Associated With?

Bullying can have serious psychological consequences. This is true whether or not individual episodes are intense or violent. It can also affect any person. Some groups, like LGBT and racial minorities, are more frequently targeted at any age.

Bullied children are more likely to suffer chronic mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Severe bullying can result in conditions including PTSD or development of fears and phobias, like social anxiety or agoraphobia.

Stress, loss of confidence, and sleep disturbances are common results for bullied adults. Since cyberbullying can leave a person of any age afraid of its future consequences, it also has a major negative effect on quality of life.

What Research Currently Exists Around Bullying?

Clinical research on bullying focuses on reducing its impact. Bullying research can be thought of as part of research on trauma. For example, prolonged trauma can result in brain changes that make it harder to regulate emotions or organize long-term effort.

Therapies for bullying victims range from medications to counseling.

In clinical studies on bullying, new medications are being pioneered. These may help victims adapt to stressful situations and enhance the effect of counseling. Counseling is aimed at giving victims a greater sense of personal agency and emotional resilience.

In some cases, as when a workplace has been heavily compromised by bullying, it may be necessary for an adult victim to leave that environment as part of safeguarding mental health. Online habits can also be adjusted to improve well-being.

Why Are Further Bullying Clinical Trials Important?

As bullying has become more widespread, the idea it is a “normal part of childhood” is being challenged by medical research. Rather than telling victims they must ignore it or “toughen up,” it is crucial to manage the measurable health effects of bullying.

At the same time, clinical practitioners are recognizing the prevalence and seriousness of adult bullying. This is a relatively new research area with many questions to answer. New studies must be conducted that focus on the problems of adult bullying.

Current Bullying Clinical Trials

This is a selection of the current bullying clinical trials offered by ClinicalTrials.gov. To share a bullying clinical trial for inclusion on our site, contact our team.

  • Efficacy Study of Amazing Me Program
    on February 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Self Esteem;   Body Distorted ImagesIntervention:   Behavioral: Amazing MeSponsor:   Arizona State UniversityRecruiting

  • Bullying in Youth With Muscular Dystrophy and Congenital Myopathies
    on February 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Muscular Dystrophies;   Congenital MyopathyIntervention:   Sponsors:   Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital;   Children's Hospital of Eastern OntarioRecruiting

  • Effectiveness Study of the Intervention "Stop Sexual Harassment" in Secondary School
    on January 20, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Sexual Harassment;   Anti-Gay Bias;   Non Sexual Harassment;   Gender-based Violence;   Gender Bias;   Bullying;   Aggression;   Depressive Symptoms;   Anxiety;   Mental HealthIntervention:   Behavioral: Stop sexual harassmentSponsors:   NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS;   University of Bergen;   Boston College;   Norwegian Council for Mental Health;   The Dam FoundationRecruiting

  • Social Media, Smartphone Use and Self-harm in Young People
    on October 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Self-Harm, DeliberateIntervention:   Sponsor:   King's College LondonRecruiting

  • Wise Interventions in the Digital Society
    on August 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Cyberbullying;   Grooming;   Risk BehaviorInterventions:   Behavioral: Wise Intervention (Self-affirmation and Incremental theory of personality);   Behavioral: Standard preventive interventionSponsors:   University of Deusto;   Fundación BBVARecruiting

  • Discover Learning - Social, Emotional and Identity Learning for Very Young Adolescents
    on July 7, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Behavior, Adaptive;   Behavior, Child;   Behavior, SocialIntervention:   Behavioral: Discover Learning (SEIL)Sponsors:   University of California, Berkeley;   Health for a Prosperous Nation;   Camara Education, Tanzania;   Ubongo Learning Limited;   Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Tanzania;   Save the ChildrenRecruiting

  • Dating Violence Prevention Program Focusing on Middle School Boys
    on March 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Adolescent Dating ViolenceInterventions:   Behavioral: Project STRONG;   Behavioral: Health PromotionSponsor:   Rhode Island HospitalRecruiting

  • Enhancing School-Based Violence Prevention
    on September 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Aggressive Childhood BehaviorInterventions:   Behavioral: Mental Health Enhanced Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS-MH);   Behavioral: Racial/Ethnic Discrimination Interventions (RED)Sponsors:   Medical University of South Carolina;   National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)Recruiting

  • Intervention to Prevent Peer Violence & Depressive Symptoms Among At-Risk Adolescents
    on August 10, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Depressive Disorder;   ViolenceInterventions:   Behavioral: + Brief ED Intervention (BI);   Behavioral: + TextSponsors:   Rhode Island Hospital;   Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)Recruiting

  • Metacognitive Therapy and Work Interventions for Patients on Sick Leave Due to Common Mental Disorders
    on October 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Anxiety;   DepressionInterventions:   Behavioral: Metacognitive therapy and work-focused interventions;   Other: Waiting listSponsors:   Norwegian University of Science and Technology;   Diakonhjemmet HospitalRecruiting

  • Pre-delivery Administration of Azithromycin to Prevent Neonatal Sepsis & Death
    on June 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Neonatal SEPSISInterventions:   Drug: Azithromycin;   Drug: Placebo Oral TabletSponsor:   London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineRecruiting


In a recent study, about 49% of students in grades 4-12 reported being bullied. Perhaps surprisingly, 31% of adults surveyed said they had been bullied. 43% said the behavior had become more accepted over the last year.

This has serious health implications. More clinical resources for bullying are essential to mental health as people of all ages face greater pressures and a digital environment that extends bullying into the home.