How do Schools Respond to Biased-Based Bullying? A Qualitative Study of Management and Prevention Strategies in Schools

Marizen R. Ramirez, Amy L. Gower, Camille Brown, Yoon Sung Nam, Marla E. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biased-based bullying, a common form of aggression that occurs in schools, targets individuals because of stigmatized identities and characteristics. Because biased-based bullying has adverse impacts on the health and well-being of marginalized students, the management and prevention of biased-based incidents is a priority, but little is known about school efforts in prevention. The goal of this study was to understand the kinds of strategies used by schools to address bias-based bullying as well as the challenges to effective prevention and intervention. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 7 teams composed of 19 educators from middle and high schools in Minnesota who were responsible for bullying response. Teams were composed of administrators, paraprofessional staff, and teachers from urban, suburban, and rural schools. Findings indicated that schools are well-versed in the steps to respond to general bullying incidents, aligning with state anti-bullying mandates on reporting, investigations, and disciplinary actions. These policies, however, do not target stigma and bias. Rather, schools look to broader upstream whole-school environmental approaches to develop a culture of inclusivity. For example, many schools are implementing socioemotional learning programs, which are neither tailored to biased-based bullying nor proven effective in reducing biased-based bullying. Other organizational initiatives being pursued by schools are the hiring of equity specialists, designing diversity education and inclusive curriculum, and instituting student-led affinity groups. Given the limited resources available in schools, future research is recommended to evaluate these new approaches, policies and practices to effectively and efficiently address the root causes of biased-based bullying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-518
Number of pages11
JournalSchool Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Biased-based bullying
  • Prevention and control
  • School


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