Bullying and School Climate Statistics
Bullying is not a rite of passage. Allowing name-calling and bullying to go unchecked compromises student performance, damages mental and physical health, and perpetuates a cycle that can lead to ever-greater forms of violence.
Just how pervasive has teasing and bullying become and what kind of threat does it pose for today’s youth?
Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in American schools and communities.
- One-fifth of all students were involved in bullying at school, either as a student who was bullied, one who bullied others, or both.
- Half of bullied students reported that they had been bullied for 6 months or more. 1
- During the 2009-2010 school year, one-fifth of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis. A higher percentage of middle school students reported being bullied than high school students. 9
- Adults in the school community typically believe that bullying and social violence are a “mild” to “moderately severe” problem whereas students consistently report that these are “severe” problems. 7
Bullying is linked to prejudice and ignorance.
- Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (glbt) students are at disproportionate risk for bullying and harassment. 60% feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 44% because of their gender expression and 20% were physically assaulted in the last year. 8
- Over the course of a year, nearly one-fourth of students across grades reported that they had been harassed or bullied on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability.12
- Nearly one-third of middle-schoolers have been the object of sexual jokes, comments or gestures. Another 15 percent have been bullied or harassed because of their religion or race.15
- For every gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender student who reported being harassed, four straight students said they were harassed for being perceived as gay or lesbian. 13
- School staff report being the least comfortable intervening in bullying situations related to sexual orientation and gender issues. 3
Bullying has serious physical and mental health as well as academic consequences for youth.
- Victims of bullying are more likely to suffer physical problems such as common colds and coughs, sore throats, poor appetite and night waking.14
- Those who are bullied are five times more likely to be depressed and far more likely to be suicidal. 4
- The mental health effects of bullying are direct and can be long-lasting with the worst effects for those who are both victims and bullies. Rates of anxiety and depression are higher for 19 -26 year olds affected by bullying as children.5 Those who were targets of bullying as children are six times more likely to have a serious illness like cancer or diabetes, six times as likely to smoke, and four times as likely to have been charged with a felony as adults.6
- Teens who experience bias-based harassment have double the risk of considering or attempting suicide, have more physical and mental illness and higher chances of drug use and relationship violence.10
- Bullying affects witnesses too. A study of students ages 12 – 16 found that those who witnessed bullying reported more feelings of depression, anxiety, hostility and inferiority. 7
Unchecked bullying can escalate to more serious violence.
- Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75 percent of school-shooting incidents, including the fatal shootings at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado, and Santana High School in Santee, California.11
- Nearly 60 percent of boys who researchers classified as bullies in grades 6–9 were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24; 40 percent of them had three or more convictions by 24.4
- Among boys who said they had bullied others at least once a week in school, more than half had carried a weapon in the past month, 43 percent had carried a weapon in school, 39 percent were involved in frequent fighting, and 46 percent reported having been injured in a fight.12
Even the best teacher can’t teach a student who is not present because they don’t feel safe.
- An estimated 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students.16
- Bullied students are more likely to dislike school and feel afraid of being bullied than uninvolved students. 1
- Significantly more students drop out of schools with higher levels of bullying.2
School climate has a significant impact on well-being and achievement for students and teachers.
- In schools with consistent positive school climate policies and practices, students are less likely to experience violence, peer victimization and punitive disciplinary actions, and demonstrate by lower levels of absenteeism and increased academic achievement.7
- Feeling safe in school powerfully promotes student health and development. Positive school climate increases motivation to learn, and improves both immediate and long-term measures of student achievement 7. For example, LGBT students with a greater number of supportive staff at their schools also had higher educational aspirations — students with many supportive staff were about a third as likely to say they were not planning on attending college compared to students with no supportive educators (5.1% vs. 14.9%).8
- In schools with more positive school climate ratings, teacher retention is higher and teachers and staff feel safer and experience less student harassment. 7
- Staff who were more connected to their school were more likely to feel comfortable intervening in all forms of bullying.3
- Two factors were significantly correlated with greater comfort intervening in bullying situations: 1) having effective strategies and 2) perceiving that others in the school were also likely to intervene. 3
1 “Bullying in U.S. Schools: 2012 Status Report,” Clemson University and Hazelden Foundation, 2012
2 “Perceived Prevalence of Teasing and Bullying Predicts High School Dropout Rates,” Journal of Educational Psychology, 2012
3 “Nationwide Study of Bullying: Teachers’ and Education Support Professionals’ Perspectives” National Education Association, 2010
4 Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2003
5 “Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence,”JAMA Psychiatry. 2013
6 “Impact of Bullying in Childhood on Adult Health, Wealth, Crime, and Social Outcomes,” Psychological Science, 2013
7 “A Review of School Climate Research,” Review Of Educational Research, 2013
8 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN, 2011
9 “Indicators of School Crime and Safety,” National Center for Education, 2011
10 ”Adolescent Health and Harassment Based on Discriminatory Bias,” American Journal of Public Health, 2012
11 US Secret Service Report, 2002
12 California Student Survey, 2001–2002
13 National Mental Health Association, 2002
14 ”Bully Victims: Psychological and Somatic Aftermaths,” Psychiatry, 2008
15 National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
16 National Education Association