CASE STUDY: Bullying and Progressive Boundary Setting

Progressive Boundary Setting is designed to:

1. Limit unwanted behaviors such as bullying.

2. Provide Just Right Responses that are neither too passive or too aggressive.

3. Provide a strategy in the form of the Progressive Fence to de-escalate and deter the onset of aggression.

This video demonstrates lack of Progressive Boundary Setting in response to bullying.


This video demonstrates how situations of bullying can quickly escalate into violence.

The goal of teaching Progressive Boundary Setting is to provide the Target of aggression with a framework for dealing with a physical confrontation without resorting to violence. The framework is the Progressive Fence. The Progressive Fence is designed to de-escalate and deter the onset of violence by providing Just Right Responses.

In this video, it is clear that the smaller boy is the Aggressor of the confrontation. He begins with verbal abuse followed quickly by a punch to the Taget's head. Despite the obvious threat, the Target maintains a passive stance. The Target's the lack of retailiation to the first punch only encourages the Aggressor to escalate his attack.

The Target needed to engage his Verbal Fence of strong assertive phrases to get the Aggressor to back off. The Verbal Fence must also haven been combined with use of the Physical Fence of raised arms and a defensive stance to limit the Aggressor's ability to strike. In this situation, the Target's passive response was "too little".

Given the nature of the attacks exhibited by the Aggressor, the Target's Physical Fence should include a shocking backward push to communicate that Aggressor needs to back off immediately and to enforce a safety zone from the Target.

Fed up with the aggression, the Target goes on the offensive and uses his superior size and strength to pick up the Aggressor and slam him to the pavement. Had the Aggressor stuck his head on the concrete or the nearby wall, the Aggressor could have easily have been seriously injured. Therefore, due to the high risk of physical injury, the Target's response was "too big".

This situation illustrates the importance of providing youth with an understanding of how to use Progressive Boundary Setting to create Just Right Responses to aggression.

Progressive Boundary Setting
is a learned strategy that empowers both Targets and Bystanders with a means to deter the onset of aggression.