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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011
NCES 2012-002
February 2012

Indicator 11: Bullying at School and Cyber-Bullying Anywhere

In 2009, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been bullied at school during the school year and 6 percent reported having been cyber-bullied.

Bullying is now recognized as a widespread and often neglected problem in schools that has serious implications for victims of bullying and for those who perpetrate the bullying (Swearer et al. 2010). The School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey collects data on students ages 12–18 and their reports of being bullied at school47 and being cyber-bullied anywhere during the school year. Cyber-bullying is distinct from bullying at school. While data on cyber-bullying are collected separately from data on bullying at school, the context for cyber-bullying may have developed at school.

This indicator first discusses student reports of being bullied at school in 2009 by selected bullying problems, and selected student and school characteristics. It then discusses student reports of being cyber-bullied anywhere in 2009 by selected cyber-bullying problems, and selected student and school characteristics. In addition, findings on bullying at school over time are presented for 2005, 2007, and 2009. Prior data are excluded from the time series due to significant redesign of the bullying items in 2005.

In 2009, about 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (figure 11.1 and table 11.1).48 Of those students who reported being bullied at school, 19 percent reported that they had been made fun of, called names, or insulted. Sixteen percent of students reported being the subject of rumors, 9 percent said they had been pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 6 percent reported being threatened with harm. Five percent of students reported being excluded from activities on purpose, 4 percent reported that others had tried to make them do things they did not want to do, and 3 percent reported that their property had been destroyed by others on purpose. In 2009, 22 percent of students who had been pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on at school during the school year, reported being injured.

Students' reports of being bullied at school varied by student and school characteristics. In 2009, a higher percentage of females (20 percent) than males (13 percent) ages 12–18 reported being the subject of rumors, while a lower percentage of females (8 percent) than males (10 percent) reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. In addition, a higher percentage of females (6 percent) than males (4 percent) also reported being excluded from activities on purpose.

The percentages of students who reported being bullied or being subjects of selected bullying problems were lower for Asian students than for White, Black, or Hispanic students in 2009. For example, 17 percent of Asian students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, compared with 29 percent each of White and Black students and 26 percent of Hispanic students. Approximately 10 percent of Asian students reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted, compared with 21 percent of White students, 18 percent of Black students, and 16 percent of Hispanic students.

A higher percentage of 6th-graders than students in grades 8 through 12 reported being bullied at school during the school year. The percentages reported by 6th-graders and 7th-graders were not measurably different. In 2009, about 39 percent of 6th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 33 percent of 7th-graders, 32 percent of 8th-graders, 28 percent of 9th-graders, 27 percent of 10th-graders, 21 percent of 11th-graders, and 20 percent of 12th-graders. By school sector, a higher percentage of public school students (29 percent) than private school students (19 percent) reported being bullied at school during the school year.

The School Crime Supplement asked students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school to indicate the location in which they had been victimized. In 2009, about 48 percent of students reported being bullied by another student in the hallway or stairwell at school during the school year (figure 11.3 and table 11.2). In addition, 34 percent reported being bullied inside the classroom, and 24 percent reported being bullied outside on school grounds. Nine percent were bullied in the bathroom or lockerroom, 7 percent were bullied in the cafeteria, 6 percent of students reported being bullied on the school bus, and 3 percent were bullied somewhere else in school.

Of students who were bullied in 2009, a higher percentage of females (52 percent) than males (44 percent) reported being bullied in the hallway or stairwell, and a lower percentage of females (21 percent) than males (27 percent) reported being bullied outside on school grounds. A higher percentage of public school students than private school students (49 vs. 36 percent) reported being bullied in the hallway or stairwell during the school year, and a lower percentage of public school students than private school students (23 vs. 37 percent) reported being bullied outside on school grounds. In addition, a higher percentage of students from rural schools (56 percent) reported being bullied in the hallway or stairwell than students from urban schools (47 percent) and suburban schools (46 percent) and a higher percentage of students from urban schools (30 percent) than students from suburban schools (23 percent) and rural schools (18 percent) reported being bullied outside on school grounds.

In 2009, approximately 6 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being cyber-bullied49 anywhere during the school year (figure 11.2 and table 11.3). Three percent reported being subject to harassing text messages. Two percent of students reported that another student had posted hurtful information on the Internet and 2 percent reported that they had been subject to harassing instant messaging. Students also reported being the subject of harassing e-mails, being excluded on-line, and being harassed while gaming (1 percent each).

With the exception of being the subject of harassment while gaming and being excluded on-line, females reported being cyber-bullied at higher percentages than males for each type of cyber-bullying problem. For example, among students ages 12–18 in 2009, about 4 percent of females reported being subject to harassing text messages compared with 2 percent of males.

Among those students who were bullied at school or cyber-bullied anywhere, there generally were no measurable differences between males and females in the frequency in which they were bullied. Students also were asked to report if they had notified an adult about the perpetration (figure 11.4 and table 11.4). While there was no measurable difference by sex in students notifying an adult after being bullied at school, a higher percentage of females (38 percent) than males (23 percent) reported notifying an adult after being cyber-bullied.

Students' reports of being bullied at school varied over time (figure 11.5 and table 11.5). While no overall pattern was observed between 2005 and 2009, a lower percentage of students reported being bullied in 2005 than in 2007 (28 vs. 32 percent). For most groups of students, the percentages reported by students in 2007 were higher than the percentages reported in 2009, returning percentages to 2005 levels.

For the majority of student and school characteristics, the percentages of students who reported being bullied at school in 2005 were lower than the percentages of students who did so in 2007. For example, 27 percent of male students and 29 percent of female students reported being bullied at school in 2005, compared with 30 percent of male students and 33 percent of female students who reported so in 2007. The percentages of White students and Hispanic students who reported being bullied during the school year in 2005 were lower (30 percent and 22 percent, respectively) than the corresponding percentages in 2007 (34 and 27 percent, respectively).

In 2007, the percent of public school students who reported being bullied at school (32 percent) and the percent of private school students who reported being bullied at school (29 percent) was higher than in 2009, when 29 percent of public school students, and 19 percent of private school students reported being bullied at school. In addition, a lower percentage of students from suburban schools reported being bullied in 2007 than in 2009. Between 2007 and 2009, no measurable differences were detected in the percentages of students from urban or rural schools who reported being bullied.

This indicator has been updated to include 2009 data. For more information: Tables 11.1, 11.2, and 11.3 and DeVoe and Bauer (2011), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012314).


47 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school.
48 "Bullying" includes being made fun of; being the subject of rumors; being threatened with harm; being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; being pressured into doing things they did not want to do; excluded from activities on purpose; and having property destroyed on purpose.
49 "Cyber-bullying" includes students who responded that another student posted hurtful information about the respondent on the Internet; students who responded that another student harassed the respondent via instant messaging; students who responded that another student harassed the respondent via Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging; students who responded that another student harassed the respondent via e-mail; students who responded that another student harassed the respondent while gaming; and students who responded that they were excluded on-line.


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