The Reality of Bullying in the US

Sometimes we don’t realize how bad things are until we see the numbers in front of our face. This post has been created to illustrate the reality of how rampant bullying is in our schools and online. As a reminder, bullying is NEVER ok and NOBODY deserves to be bullied.

More than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

33% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 12% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

A slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (23% vs. 19%). In contrast, a higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%) and threatened with harm (5% vs. 3%; (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

Bullied students reported that bullying occurred in the following places: the hallway or stairwell at school (42%), inside the classroom (34%), in the cafeteria (22%), outside on school grounds (19%), on the school bus (10%), and in the bathroom or locker room (9%) (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

More than half of bullying situations (57%) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001).

School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25% (McCallion & Feder, 2013).

Effects of Bullying

Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression (Center for Disease Control, 2017).

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 (Center for Disease Control, 2017).

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; Shelley & Craig, 2010).


Among high school students, 15.5% are cyberbullied and 20.2% are bullied on school property (Center for Disease Control, 2017).

The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007-2016 (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016).

Statistics about bullying of students with disabilities

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.

Statistics about bullying of students of color

25% of African-American students, 22% of Caucasian students, 17% of Hispanic students, and 9% of Asian students report being bullied at school (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

More than one third of adolescents reporting bullying report bias-based school bullying (Russell, Sinclair, Poteat, & Koenig, 2012).

Race-related bullying is significantly associated with negative emotional and physical health effects (Rosenthal et al, 2013).

Statistics about bullying of students who identify or are perceived as LGBTQ

74.1% of LGBT students were verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55.2% because of their gender expression (National School Climate Survey, 2013).

36.2% of LGBT students were physically bullied (e.g., pushed, shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 22.7% because of their gender expression (National School Climate Survey, 2013).

49% of LGBT students experienced cyberbullying in the past year (National School Climate Survey, 2013).

30.3% of LGBT students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and 10.6% missed four or more days in the past month (National School Climate Survey, 2013).

Students were less likely to report having experienced homophobic bullying and report more school connectedness in schools with more supportive practices, including (Day & Snapp, 2016):

    • Adequate counseling and support services for students.
    • Considering sanctions for student violations of rules and policies on a case-by-case basis with a wide range of options.
    • Providing effective confidential support and referral services for students needing help because of substance abuse, violence, or other problems.
    • Helping students with their social, emotional, and behavioral problems, and provide behavior management instruction.
    • Fostering youth development, resilience, or asset promotion.


Bullied youth were most likely to report that actions that accessed support from others made a positive difference (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).


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).

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.

So what can you do about it?

We have some great resources on our blog this month including a checklist to determine if you are a target of bullying, tips for parents on how to help a child with bullying, and a 30-day-free trial at our martial arts school. We also have a bullying prevention guide with a lot of tips for children to use when encountering bullies on their own or at school. Finally, follow us on social media for plenty of topic-based conversations around bullying prevention.


Jolene Rheault

Jolene works as a marketing professional but full-time as a mom. She lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her 7-year-old son, husband, 2 cats, and a bearded dragon named Jerry.

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