Youth Bullying Prevention in the District of Columbia | School Years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022

Research BriefHealthy SchoolsJul 13 2023

The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 (YBPA; DC Code § 2-1535.03) and its implementing regulations require schools and other youth-serving organizations (including, but not limited to, government agencies, libraries, nonprofits, and community centers) to adopt comprehensive anti-bullying policies, implement thorough reporting and investigation procedures, provide training for staff, and maintain and report incident data. The law further requires the Mayor to report to Council the current implementation of the Act and to provide a summary of the status of bullying in the District of Columbia (DC) on a biennial basis. This report serves to fulfill this requirement for school years (SY) 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. As with the previous iterations of the report, this report provides a detailed summary of each education institution’s engagement with the YBPA.

Key Findings


  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the related shift to virtual schooling in SY 2020-2021 dramatically decreased the number of reported bullying incidents; although allegations rebounded in SY 2021-2022, they were still lower than pre-pandemic statistics. Schools reported receiving just 152 allegations of bullying in SY 2020-2021, a decrease from 1,344 in SY 2019-2020. In SY 2021-2022, reported allegations returned to similar levels as SY 2019-2020, with 1,293 allegations.
  • The overall percentage of DC schools that are fully compliant with the YBPA’s four requirements decreased from SY 2019-2020. Only 19 percent of schools were fully compliant with the YBPA in SY 2021-2022, compared with 26 percent in SY 2019-2020.
  • Schools are using both exclusionary and restorative justice methods to address incidents of bullying. Over two-thirds (68%) of schools with at least one incident of bullying used exclusionary discipline (i.e., suspension, expulsion, referral to law enforcement). This represents an increase from 57 percent in SY 2019-2020. Similarly, 69 percent of schools also addressed incidents of bullying with restorative justice practices. Counseling or other mental health services were used in 39 percent of the cases.
  • Schools reported that, post-pandemic, many students are in need of basic social and emotional supports to prevent peer conflict and bullying. In qualitative data, schools reported that upon return to in-person learning in SY 2021-2022, many students needed supports to reintegrate into the school community and establish positive school climates.

A Look Ahead: Current & Upcoming Priorities for the Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program

  • Facilitate multiple modalities of training to ensure compliance with training requirements in the YBPA. The Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program (Program or YBPP) will work to disseminate its existing bullying prevention training toolkit and recorded train-the-trainer module, in addition to providing individualized training sessions at schools upon request.
  • Develop and update resources that describe best practices for addressing bullying incidents. The Program will work to update existing guidance documents, create new resources, and provide additional trainings around best practices for intervening in bullying situations, with the goal of reducing the number of schools relying on exclusionary discipline.
  • Support schools’ implementation of all elements of the YBPA. The Program will focus on providing easily implemented tools for schools to self-audit their compliance with the YBPA, conduct staff trainings, disseminate bullying prevention policies, and maintain necessary records to demonstrate their compliance. These efforts will contribute to the Program’s goal of increasing the number of schools in compliance with the YBPA.

Suggested Citation

Temkin, D., Shepard, E., Martinez, M., Chandler, T.E., & Khaing, H. (2023). Youth bullying prevention in the District of Columbia: school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Child Trends.