Though school bullying has been occurring for centuries, it only recently gained global attention through scholarly studies and social media. As previous literature showed bullying can lead to long-term mental health problems for children and adolescents, a number of bullying prevention programs were created throughout Europe and have since been implemented in the United States. However, these prevention programs are not as effective in the United States, partially as a result of the heterogeneity within school systems and a lack of funding. Further, they fail to address a key component of bullying––the perceived imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. This dissertation, through a clinical review of the literature, supports that certain minority populations may be more at risk for bullying victimization than other populations, indicating bullying is a human rights concern. It also supports that bullying is a social justice issue, as children who are bullied are no longer safe at their schools and are therefore unable to reach their full potential because their academic, cognitive, and emotional functioning are compromised by their bullying experience. Though the concept of bullying has been researched for decades, research into the relationship between bullying prevention and social justice is limited. This dissertation involved an in-depth look at bullying definitions, current bullying prevention programs, social justice, and the role of prevention in extinguishing bullying. In considering bullying as a social justice issue, the researcher looked at the role of psychologists as agents of social change within their communities. Ultimately, though there is some literature to support that psychologists are agents of social change within their communities, additional research as to how psychologists can implement this role within the school system, and specifically related to bullying prevention, is needed. Overall, the aim of this critical literature review was to promote an understanding of bullying as a social justice issue and to encourage future research into bullying prevention to conceptualize bullying in this context.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Bullying in schools -- Psychological aspects; Social justice; Educational equalization

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Cohen, Anat;