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Bullying

Narrative

Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power or strength that is intentional, repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying may damage children’s self-esteem, cause higher rates of loneliness and depression, and affect academic success. Bullying can also have physical effects, such as an increase in headaches, sleeping problems, and stomach ailments. Children who engage in bullying may be more likely to get into physical altercations, use drugs and alcohol, and get into trouble with the law. Even children who witness bullying can be negatively affected.1

In 2009, 19.9 percent of high school students reported that they had been bullied on school property in the past year. The likelihood of a child being bullied varied by a number of factors including sex, race/ethnicity, and grade level. Females were more likely than males to have been bullied (21.2 percent versus 18.7 percent) while nearly one-quarter of 9th graders reported being bullied compared to 13.5 percent of 12th graders. Overall, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native children were most likely to report having been bullied (33.8 percent), while non-Hispanic Black children were least likely (13.7 percent).

Violence, such as bullying, can prevent children from attending school for fear of their safety. In 2009, 5.0 percent of high school students reported that they did not go to school on at least one day during the past month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic students were more than twice as likely to miss school because of safety concerns as non-Hispanic White children (8.7 and 8.1 percent, respectively, versus 3.5 percent) while non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander children were more than three times as likely (10.6 percent).

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stop Bullying Now. Effects of Bullying. Accessed March 2011.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

high school students bullied on school property graph

This image is described in the Data section.

high school students who felt unsafe at school graph

Data

High School Students Who Were Bullied on School Property in the Past Year, by Race/Ethnicity, 2009

Percent of High School Students

  • Total: 19.9
  • Non-Hispanic White: 21.6
  • Non-Hispanic Black: 13.7
  • Hispanic: 18.5
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native: 33.8
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 17.5
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander: 20.4
  • Non-Hispanic Multiple Race: 23.9

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.  

High School Students Who Felt Unsafe at School,* by Race/Ethnicity, 2009

Percent of High School Students

  • Total: 5.0
  • Non-Hispanic White: 3.5
  • Non-Hispanic Black: 6.3
  • Hispanic: 8.1
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native: 8.7
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 2.9
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander: 10.6
  • Non-Hispanic Multiple Race: 5.5

*Did not go to school on at least 1 day during the preceding 30 days because he/she felt unsafe at school or on the way to or from school.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.  


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