Current statistics on bullying

One out of every five students (20.2 %) report being bullied at school, according to research released in 2019 by the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s down from 28 percent in 2005, the year the U.S. Department of Education began collecting data on bullying.

According to the 2019 findings, 23 percent of African-American students, 23 percent of Caucasian students, 16 percent of Hispanic students and 7 percent of Asians report being bullied at school.

Of the reporting students, 13 percent were made fun of, called names or insulted; 13 percent were the subject of rumors, 5 percent were pushed, shoved, kicked or spit on; and 5 percent were excluded from activities on purpose.

46 percent of bullied students report notifying an adult at school about an incident, and 41 percent believe it will happen again, according to the 2019 report .

According to education research from 2013, school-based bullying prevention programs reduce school bullying by 25 percent.

Bullying is a global problem. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, one third of the world’s youth is bullied – ranging from 7 percent of 12 to 18-year-old students in Tajikistan, to 74 percent in Samoa.

Health effects from bullying

Students who experience bullying have a greater risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties,  eating disorders, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There is no direct link with suicide, although bullying increases  mental health problems that increase suicide risk. Research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion and despair. 

Even observing bullying has a negative effect on children who witness it, increasing feelings of helplessness and reducing feelings of connectedness and support from responsible adults, according to a 2014 CDC report.

Research on interventions

2010 research on interventions found that victim actions aimed at stopping bullying behavior – such as fighting, telling bullies to stop, or getting back at them – were more likely to make things worse.

The research found that the most helpful things teachers can do are to listen to the student, check in later to see if the bullying has stopped, and give the student advice.

The most harmful things teachers can do include ignoring what’s going on, telling bullied students to stop tattling, telling them to solve the problem themselves, and telling them that bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently.

According to reports from students who have been bullied, actions that had the most negative impact are often used by victims or recommended by adults.  These include walking away, pretending it doesn’t bother them, telling the bully to stop, and telling the bully how it makes them feel. 

Bullied youth were most likely to report that enlisting help from others made a positive difference. Peer interventions were more effective than advocating for oneself or asking an adult to intercede.

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