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Bullying

Narrative

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that may be repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. Making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose are all examples of bullying. There is no specific factor that puts children at risk of being bullied or bullying others, although some groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youth may be at higher risk.

Being bullied has been associated with a wide range of both short- and long-term emotional, physical, and developmental consequences, including depression, anxiety, headaches, sleeping problems, stomach ailments, and decreased academic achievement. Children who bully are also more likely to engage in violent and risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use and early sexual activity. Even children who witness bullying can be negatively affected. Cyberbullying, or bullying that takes place using electronic technology, is different from other types of bullying in that it can happen at any time, messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly, and can be very difficult to delete after posting.1

In 2011, 20.1 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 and grade level. Females were more likely than males to have been bullied overall (22.0 percent versus 18.2 percent) while 24.2 percent of 9th graders reported being bullied compared to 15.2 percent of 12th graders.

Approximately one in six (16.2 percent) of high school students reported having been electronically bullied through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites or texting in the prior 12 months. Females were approximately twice as likely as males to have been electronically bullied at all grade levels (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Females were also more likely than males to have been electronically bullied across all racial and ethnic groups for whom race- and sex-specific data are available.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stop Bullying. Accessed: August 2012.

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 Sex and Grade, 2011
Grade Percent of High School Students
Total Male Female
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Online: High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Accessed: 08/05/12.
Total 20.1 18.2 22.0
9th Grade 24.2 21.5 27.1
10th Grade 22.4 20.4 24.6
11th Grade 17.1 16.7 17.5
12th Grade 15.2 13.4 17.2
High School Students Who Were Electronically Bullied in the Past Year, by Sex and Race/Ethnicity, 2011
Race/Ethnicity Percent of High School Students
Total Male Female
*Sex-specific data for non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders do not meet standards for reliability or precision.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Online: High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Accessed: 08/05/12.
Total 16.2 10.8 22.1
Non-Hispanic White 18.6 11.8 25.9
Non-Hispanic Black 8.9 6.9 11.0
Hispanic 13.6 9.5 18
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 16.2 9.3 23.6
Non-Hispanic Asian 14.4 11.2 18.3
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 21 12 29.6
Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 19.6 * *