Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012
NCES 2013-036
2013

Indicator 11: Bullying at School and Cyber-Bullying Anywhere

In 2011, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported being bullied at school, and 9 percent reported being cyber-bullied during the school year.

Bullying28 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 school29 and being cyber-bullied anywhere during the school year. Cyber-bullying30 is distinct from bullying at school. Survey items on cyber-bullying anywhere are asked separately from other survey items on bullying at school; however, the context for cyber-bullying may have developed at school.

This indicator first discusses student reports of being bullied at school in 2011 by selected bullying problems and selected student and school characteristics. It then discusses student reports of being cyber-bullied anywhere in 2011 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, 2009, and 2011. Prior data are excluded from the time series due to significant redesign of the bullying items in 2005.

In 2011, about 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (figure 11.1 and table 11.1). Of those students who reported being bullied at school, 18 percent reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted. Eighteen percent of students reported being the subject of rumors, 5 percent reported being threatened with harm, and 3 percent reported that others tried to make them do things they did not want to do. Six percent of students reported being excluded from activities on purpose, 3 percent reported that their property was destroyed by others on purpose, and 8 percent said they were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. In 2011, about 21 percent of students who were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on at school during the school year reported being injured as a result of the incident.

Students' reports of being bullied at school varied by student and school characteristics. In 2011, a higher percentage of females than of males ages 12–18 reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted (19 vs. 16 percent), were the subject of rumors (24 vs. 13 percent), and were excluded from activities on purpose (6 vs. 5 percent). The percentage of males (9 percent) who reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on was higher than the percentage of females (7 percent) who reported being subjected to the same type of bullying.

Overall, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school was highest for White students and lowest for Asian students in 2011. Specifically, 15 percent of Asian students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, compared with 31 percent of White students, 27 percent of Black students, and 22 percent of Hispanic students. Nine percent of Asian students reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted, compared with 21 percent of White students and 16 percent of Black students. Similarly, 8 percent of Asian students reported that they had been the subject of rumors, compared with 20 percent of White students, 19 percent of Black students, and 15 percent of Hispanic students.

A higher percentage of students in 6th grade than of students in grades 7 through 12 reported being bullied at school during the school year. In 2011, about 37 percent of 6th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 30 percent of 7th-graders, 31 percent of 8th-graders, 26 percent of 9th-graders, 28 percent of 10th-graders, 24 percent of 11th- graders, and 22 percent of 12th-graders.

By school sector, a higher percentage of public school students than of private school students reported being bullied and being subjects of selected bullying problems at school in 2011. Twenty-eight percent of public school students reported being bullied at school, compared with 21 percent of private school students. Higher percentages of public school students than of private school students also reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted (18 vs. 14 percent), were the subject of rumors (19 vs. 13 percent), were threatened with harm (5 vs. 2 percent), and were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (8 vs. 5 percent). Additionally, there were differences by urbanicity: a lower percentage of students in urban areas (25 percent) reported being bullied at school than students in suburban and rural areas in 2011 (29 and 30 percent, respectively).

The School Crime Supplement asked students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school to indicate the location at which they had been victimized. In 2011, of students who reported being bullied, about 46 percent of students reported that the bullying occurred in the hallway or stairwell at school during the school year (figure 11.2 and table 11.2). In addition, 33 percent reported being bullied inside the classroom, and 22 percent reported being bullied outside on school grounds. Eleven percent reported being bullied in the bathroom or locker room, 9 percent reported being bullied in the cafeteria, 7 percent reported being bullied on the school bus, and 2 percent reported being bullied somewhere else in school. For the most part, the percentages of students who reported being bullied in various locations did not differ by student or school characteristics.

In 2011, approximately 9 percent of students ages 12– 18 reported being cyber-bullied anywhere during the school year (figure 11.3 and table 11.3). Four percent of students reported that another student had posted hurtful information on the Internet and 4 percent reported being subject to harassing text messages. Three percent of students reported being subject to harassing instant messages, 2 percent reported being subject to harassing e-mails, and 1 percent each reported having their private information purposefully shared on the Internet, being harassed while gaming, and being excluded online.

With the exception of being the subject of harassment while gaming and being excluded online, female students ages 12–18 reported being the victims of all other types of cyber-bullying problems at higher percentages than males in 2011. For example, 6 percent of females versus 2 percent of males reported that another student posted hurtful information about them on the Internet, and the same percentages of females and males, respectively, reported being the subject of harassing text messages. However, 3 percent of male students reported being harassed while gaming, compared with less than one-half of 1 percent of female students.

There were also some differences in the prevalence of students reporting cyber-bullying anywhere during the school year by students' race/ethnicity, grade level, and urbanicity. The percentage of students who reported being cyber-bullied was higher for White students (11 percent) than for Hispanic (8 percent) or Black (7 percent) students. A higher percentage of students in 10th grade (12 percent) reported being cyber-bullied than of students in 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grade (between 6 and 9 percent each). Also, the percentage of students in urban areas reporting cyber-bullying overall was lower than students in suburban areas (7 and 10 percent, respectively).

In 2011, about 36 percent of students who reported bullying problems at school indicated that they occurred at least once or twice a month31 during the school year (figure 11.4 and table 11.4). Among those students who reported being bullied, there were no measurable differences between males and females in the frequency of their being bullied. Twenty-eight percent of students who reported cyber-bullying problems anywhere indicated that these problems occurred at least once or twice a month during the school year. In general, for students who reported being cyber-bullied, greater percentages of males than of females reported frequencies of cyber-bullying of once or twice a month or more often. For example, 26 percent of males and 16 percent of females were cyber-bullied once or twice a month, and 9 percent of males and 3 percent of females were cyber-bullied once or twice a week. On the other hand, a greater percentage of females (79 percent) than of males (60 percent) reported being cyber-bullied once or twice in the school year.

Students who reported being bullied also were asked if they had notified an adult. In 2011, a higher percentage of students reported notifying an adult after being bullied at school than after being cyber- bullied anywhere (40 vs. 26 percent). While there was no measurable difference by sex in the percentage of students notifying an adult after being bullied at school, a higher percentage of females (32 percent) than of males (16 percent) reported notifying an adult after being cyber-bullied. Higher percentages of students in grades 6 through 9 reported notifying an adult after being bullied at school than did students in grades 10 through 12; generally, higher percentages of 6th- through 9th-graders than of 11th- and 12th- graders notified an adult about cyber-bullying.

Students' reports of being bullied at school varied over time (figure 11.5 and table 11.5). While no linear trend was observed between 2005 and 2011, a higher percentage of students reported being bullied in 2007 (32 percent) than in 2005, 2009, and 2011 (28 percent in each year). For many of the school characteristics examined, the percentages of students who reported being bullied at school in 2011 were lower than in 2007. For example, in 2011 the percentage of public school students who reported being bullied at school (28 percent) and the percentage of private school students who reported being bullied at school (21 percent) were lower than in 2007, when 32 percent of public school students and 29 percent of private school students reported being bullied at school. Also, lower percentages of students from urban and rural areas reported being bullied in 2011 than in 2007.

This indicator has been updated to include 2011 data. For more information: Tables 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 and DeVoe and Bauer (2011), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012314).


28 "Bullying" includes students who responded that another student had made fun of them, called them names, or insulted them; spread rumors about them; threatened them with harm; tried to make them do  something  they  did not want to do; excluded them from activities on purpose; destroyed their property on purpose; or pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on them.
29 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school.
30 "Cyber-bullying" includes students who responded that another student had posted hurtful information about them on the Internet; purposefully shared private information about them on the Internet; harassed them via instant messaging; harassed them via Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging; harassed them via e-mail; harassed them while gaming; or excluded them online.
31 Students who reported being bullied or cyber-bullied at least once or twice a month includes students who reported that they had been bullied (or cyber-bullied) "almost every day," "once or twice a week," and "once or twice a month."


Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.