How widespread is the bullying problem? from

How widespread is the bullying problem?

Bullying is a widespread problem in the United States.

  • Bullying peaks in middle childhood, and decreases over the high school years (Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod, Hamby, & Kracke, 2009; Goldbaum, Craig, Pepler, & Connolly, 2003; Nansel et al., 2001).
  • Studies show that between 15 to 25 percent of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency (“sometimes or more often”) while 15 to 20 percent report that they bully others with some frequency (Melton et
    al., 1998; Nansel et al., 2001). Rates of bullying are higher among
    younger students; almost 43 percent of 6th graders report having been bullied, compared to about 24 percent of 12th graders (U.S. Department of Justice, 2007).
  • In a 2009 nationally-representative sample of youth grades 9-12, 19.9% reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey. The prevalence was higher among females (21.2%)
    than males (18.7%) (Eaton et al., 2010).
  • In 2007, about 32% of students aged 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school during the school year. The most common types of bullying at school included being made fun of, being the subject of
    rumors, and being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. Only about a
    third of victims notified a teacher or another adult about it (Dinkes,
    Kemp, & Baum, 2009).
  • Among children and youth aged 17 and younger, about 1 in 5 report being physically bullied, and about 3 in 10 report being teased or emotionally bullied in their lifetime. Among children aged 10 to 17,
    about 8% report having been the victim of Internet harassment
    (Finkelhor et al., 2009).
  • Bullying is experienced by both boys and girls. While boys experience more physical and verbal bullying, girls experience more psychological/relational bullying (Finkelhor et al., 2009; Wang,
    Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009).
  • Research indicates that children with disabilities or special needs are at a higher risk of being bullied than other children (Rigby, 2002).
  • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more likely to report being bullied than are heterosexual youth (Berlan et al., 2010).

Visit Where can I find federal data on bullying? to find more bullying related statistics.

View References


ABCs of Bullying

This online training course from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for professionals in education, health and mental health, and related fields examines the causes and
effects of bullying, prevention techniques and programs, screening,
treatment options, and legal/ethical issues surrounding bullying.

Bullying Solutions (forthcoming)
This resource from SAMHSA offers principals free information and ready-to-use tools to develop and implement their own quality,
research-based initiatives. Site features include materials such as
PowerPoint presentations, brochures, posters, letters, and articles;
online surveys for principals and students; a step-by-step program
calendar; a bullying reporting template and discipline guide; and
curriculum enhancements.

National Center for Bullying PreventionExternal Web Site Policy

The Department of Labor’s National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth partnered with the PACER Center to develop this initiative on Teen Bullying.

The Scope and Impact of Bullying

This fact sheet from Stop Bullying Now! provides an overview of the bullying problem, reviews the effects of bullying, discusses children who bully and research on bullying, and looks at what works in bullying

Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE)

STRYVE is a national initiative, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which takes a public health approach to preventing youth violence before it starts. To support this effort, the
STRYVE website provides communities with the knowledge and resources
to be successful in preventing youth violence. Resources include
up-to-date bullying facts and statistics and bullying prevention

What We Know About Bullying

This fact sheet from Stop Bullying Now! discusses what bullying is, its prevalence, and bullying and gender. It also explores the consequences of bullying and looks at adult responses to bullying.

To learn more, check out our youth topic page on bullying.

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