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At what age does bullying start?

Bullying starts at a young age. But I was giving a parent talk recently and I asked that question to parents, just to get their idea. And one woman raised her hand and the mother said, "My bullying started I think when the baby was in my womb." And I started laughing. I said, "It doesn't start that early. Even though that baby was very aggressive and kicking." But the story is that bullying does start when kids start relating to each other, which can start at age two or three. We see at three that girls pair off to become best friends and exclude another. That's at three-years old. So by the time they get to elementary school and middle school, they're pros. Boys start that kind of stuff a little later. True bullying starts at age seven or eight when kids start understanding the meaning of power. Kids at that age developmentally start realizing they have control over themselves and they can feel more powerful by moving up that social ladder. So that's when he have to watch bullying and people get involved in schools, because that's when it really begins to escalate through the middle school years, and then levels out in high school.

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Joel Haber, PhD

Psychologist, Bullying & Parenting Expert, Author

Dr. Joel Haber is a Clinical Psychologist and internationally recognized bully prevention and parenting expert. He was selected as a webinar leader and a speaker for the Obama Administration Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention initiative.  He was also an invited participant to the Second Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in 2011. His recent book, Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good set the bullying standard for schools, camps, sports, organizations and families dealing with bully prevention and intervention. He recently published The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive Parenting.  He is a consultant and expert to the American Camp Association, and to LG Electronics as a member of (, providing cyberbullying and mobile harassment expertise to parents and families. He is an advisor to Cartoon Network’s anti-bully campaign: Stop Bullying: Speak Up.  He is an expert for No Snap Judgments: The Addams Family Broadway Show- National Campaign to promote acceptance and tolerance amongst our youth. He is also co-founder of Tool Kits for Kids (, recipient of five national parenting awards for helping parents and kids develop the tools and emotional life skills to overcome worry, build confidence and develop resilience. He has written and published extensively, speaking each year to thousands of parents and educators to help make children’s lives, safer and better. 

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