Bullying Statistics and Facts

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education delivered the principal government meaning of tormenting. The definition incorporates three center components:

  • unwanted aggressive behavior
  • observed or perceived power imbalance
  • repetition or high likelihood of repetition of bullying behaviors

This definition decides if an episode is harassing or other sort of forceful conduct, for example, once physical battles, online contentions, or occurrences between grown-ups.

Some tormenting activities can fall into criminal classes, for example, provocation, initiation, or attack.

A comprehensive overview of current bullying prevention research conducted by government and higher education agencies.

Rates of Incidence

  • Effects of Bullying

  • Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school (Centers for Disease Control, 2019 )

  • Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied (Centers for Disease Control, 2019 )

  • Bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%) (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 )

  • Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches (Gini & Pozzoli, 2013 )

  • Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment (Perren, Ettakal, & Ladd, 2013 )


  • Among students ages 12 – 18 who reported being bullied at school, 15% were bullied online or by text (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 )

  • Reports of cyberbullying are highest among middle school students, followed by high school students, and then primary school students (Centers for Disease Control, 2019 )

  • The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have more than doubled (18% to 37%) from 2007-2019 (Patchin & Hinduia, 2019 )

  • When students were asked about the specific types of cyberbullying they had experienced, mean and hurtful comments (25%) and rumors spread online (22%) were the most commonly-cited (Patchin et al., 2019 )

  • The type of cyberbullying tends to differ by gender. Girls were more likely to say someone spread rumors about them online while boys were more likely to say that someone threatened to hurt them online (Patchin et al., 2019 )

  • Those who are cyberbullied are also likely to be bullied offline (Hamm, Newton, & Chisholm, 2015 )

  • Bullying of Students with Disabilities

  • Students with specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavior disorders, other health impairments, and speech or language impairments report greater rates of victimization than their peers without disabilities longitudinally and their victimization remains consistent over time (Rose & Gage, 2016 )

  • When assessing specific types of disabilities, prevalence rates differ: 35.3% of students with behavioral and emotional disorders, 33.9% of students with autism, 24.3% of students with intellectual disabilities, 20.8% of students with health impairments, and 19% of students with specific learning disabilities face high levels of bullying victimization (Rose & Espelage, 2012 )

  • Researchers discovered that students with disabilities were more worried about school safety and being injured or harassed by other peers compared to students without a disability (Saylor & Leach, 2009 )

  • When reporting bullying youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Successful strategies to prevent bullying among students with disabilities include (Rose & Monda-Amaya, 2012):

    • Teachers and peers engaging in meaningful and appropriate social interactions

    • Creating opportunities to increase social competence and positive interactions

    • Schools adopting appropriate intervention strategies that encourage social awareness and provide individualized interventions for targets with disabilities

      Bullying of Students of Color

  • Bullying of Students Who Identify or Are Perceived as LGBTQ

  • 70.1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 59.1% because of their gender expression, and 53.2% based on gender (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018 )

  • 28.9% of LGBTQ students were physically bullied (e.g., pushed, shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 24.4% because of their gender expression, and 22.8% based on gender (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • 48.7% of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying in the past year (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • 59.5% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 44.6% because of their gender expression, and 35% because of their gender (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • 34.8% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and 10.5% missed four or more days in the past month (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • Of the LGBTQ students who reported they were considering dropping out of school, 42.2% indicated they were doing so because of the harassment they faced at school (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • Compared to LGBTQ students with no supportive school staff, students with many (11 or more) supportive staff at school were less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe (20.1% to 48.8%) and felt greater belonging to their school community (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • LGBTQ students experienced a safe, more positive school environment when their school had a bullying prevention / anti-harassment policy that specifically included protections on sexual orientation and gender identity / expression (Kosciw et al., 2018 )

  • Peer victimization of all youth was less likely to occur in schools with bullying policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ students (Hatzenbuehler & Keyes, 2013 )

  • Bullying and Suicide

  • There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression, violent behavior, and substance abuse (Reed, Nugent, & Cooper, 2015 )

  • Students who report frequently bullying others and students who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014 )

  • A meta-analysis found that students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization (Gini & Espelage, 2014 )

  • Students who are both bullied and engage in bullying behavior are the highest risk group for adverse outcomes (Espelage & Holt, 2013 )

  • The false notion that suicide is a natural response to being bullied has the dangerous potential to normalize the response and thus create copycat behavior among youth (Centers for Disease Control, 2014).

  • Interventions

  • Bullied youth were most likely to report that actions that accessed support from others made a positive difference (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Actions aimed at changing the behavior of the bullying youth (fighting, getting back at them, telling them to stop, etc.) were rated as more likely to make things worse (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Students reported that the most helpful things teachers can do are: listen to the student, check in with them afterwards to see if the bullying stopped, and give the student advice (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Students reported that the most harmful things teachers can do are: tell the student to solve the problem themselves, tell the student that the bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently, ignored what was going on, or tell the student to stop tattling (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • As reported by students who have been bullied, the self-actions that had some of the most negative impacts (telling the person to stop/how I feel, walking away, pretending it doesn’t bother me) are often used by youth and often recommended to youth (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Bystanders

  • Students need not be the targets of bullying to experience negative outcomes. Observing bullying is associated with adverse mental health outcomes (Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009 )

  • Bystanders’ beliefs in their social self-efficacy were positively associated with defending behavior and negatively associated with passive behavior from bystanders – i.e. if students believe they can make a difference, they’re more likely to act (Thornberg et al., 2012 )

  • Students who experience bullying report that allying and supportive actions from their peers (such as spending time with the student, talking to him/her, helping him/her get away, or giving advice) were the most helpful actions from bystanders (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • Students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions helpful than educator or self-actions (Davis & Nixon, 2010 )

  • The Youth Voice Research Project (2010 ) found that victimized students reported the following bystander strategies that made things better: spent time with me (54%), talked to me (51%), helped me get away (49%), called me (47%), gave me advice (46%), helped me tell (44%), distracted me (43%), listened to me  (41%), told an adult (35%), confronted them (29%), asked them to stop

  • Even students who have observed but not participated in bullying behavior report significantly more feelings of helplessness and less sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults than students who have not witnessed bullying behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014 )




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