Bullying is a problem that has invaded every arena of society today. When polled, Americans respond that bullying is a “widespread issue,” especially in youth sports. To date, the principle challenge in addressing youth bullying often boils down to one of perspective.


Defining “Bullying”

According to Psychology Today, bullying as a term is defined as: “repeated aggressive behavior that can be physical, verbal (name-calling, taunting, insulting), or relational.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, bullying has been shown to have negative long-term effects on both the bullied and the bully.


Bullying Tactics by Gender

Psychology Today also reports that gender influences bullying tactics.

Boys are more likely to use force. Girls are more likely to bully socially by means of exclusion, gossip, and intimidation.


Different Perspectives on Bullying in Youth Sports

Surveys indicate that adults have a range of perspectives when it comes to youth bullying in the sports arena. Some of the most common include these.

• Bullying is necessary to strengthen character and encourage teamwork
• Parents are more likely to support bullying than non-parents
• Bullies and those who have been bullied are more likely to support bullying for the purposes of building character
• Men are more likely than women to support bullying for the purposes of building character
• Men are less likely than women to see bullying as widespread
• Most adults feel that punishment for coaches and youth athletes is warranted in bullying situations


Addressing Bullying in Youth Sports

The challenge in effectively addressing youth bullying in the sports arena comes down to two factors: differences in perspective and disagreement about what to do.

Since most individuals state not enough is being done currently to end bullying, it is clear more work is needed. Polled adults cite support for these interventions.

• Anti-bullying training and independent third-party monitoring
• Strict “no bullying” policies for youth sports
• Strict enforcement of “no bullying” policies on and off the playing fields


What Coaches Can Do to End Bullying

Active.com gives coaches the credit for establishing bullying policies. Promotion of unifying principles like respect, support and appropriate communication can go a long way to decrease bullying.

By understanding what bullying is and effective anti-bullying approaches, youth sports can become a safer place for kids to learn, grow, and develop confidence for adult life.