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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Bullying at School and Electronic Bullying

(Last Updated: May 2021)
This indicator also appears under School Crime and Safety.

In 2019, about 22 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, which was lower than the percentage reported in 2009 (28 percent). In 2019, about 16 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months.

The School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey collected data on bullying1 by asking students ages 12–18 if they had been bullied at school2 during the school year. Students were also asked about the types and frequencies of bullying they had been subjected to and where the bullying occurred. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) also collected data on students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property3 or electronically bullied4 during the previous 12 months. This indicator first discusses bullying at school using the SCS data. It then uses the YRBSS data to discuss electronic bullying by student characteristics and electronic bullying and bullying on school property by state. Readers should take note of the differing populations of interest, contexts, reference periods, and terminology across these data sources.

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Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by selected student and school characteristics: 2019
Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by selected student and school characteristics: 2019

1 Total includes race categories not separately shown.

2 Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data for Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native students did not meet reporting standards in 2019; therefore, data for these two groups are not shown.

3 Excludes students with missing information about the school characteristic.

NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.40.

Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 2009 through 2019
Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 2009 through 2019

NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native are included in the totals but omitted from this figure, because data for these two groups did not meet report standards for all or some of the years.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2009 through 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.40.

Figure 3. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying: 2019
Figure 3. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying: 2019

NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students who reported experiencing more than one type of bullying at school were counted only once in the total for students bullied at school.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.45.

Figure 4. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2019
Figure 4. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2019

1 Examples provided to the respondent include on a school bus or at a bus stop.

NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students who reported being bullied at school were also asked whether the bullying occurred "online or by text." Location totals may sum to more than 100 percent because students could have been bullied in more than one location. Excludes students who indicated that they were bullied but did not answer the question about where the bullying occurred.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.50.

Figure 5. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2019
Figure 5. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2019

NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students who reported being bullied during the school year were asked to report whether they were bullied on 1 day in the school year, 2 days in the school year, 3 to 10 days in the school year, or more than 10 days in the school year. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.60.

Figure 6. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months, by selected student characteristics: 2019
Figure 6. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months, by selected student characteristics: 2019

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

1 Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

2 Students were asked which of the following—"heterosexual (straight)," "gay or lesbian," "bisexual," or "not sure"—best described them.

NOTE: Electronic bullying includes "being bullied through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media."

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.55.


1 “Bullying” includes students who reported 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. In the total for students bullied at school, students who reported more than one type of bullying were counted only once.

2 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.

3 In the YRBSS, bullying was defined for respondents as “when one or more students tease, threaten, spread rumors about, hit, shove, or hurt another student over and over again.” “On school property” was not defined for respondents.

4 Being electronically bullied includes “being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting” for 2011 through 2015 and “being bullied through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media” for 2017 and 2019.

5 The 2019 SCS survey included a split sample design to compare two versions of an updated questionnaire on bullying. Approximately 60 percent of the sample received version 1, which was consistent with prior years; the remaining 40 percent received version 2, which included changes such as removing the word “bullying.” The 2019 estimates in this indicator are based on the 60 percent of the sample who received version 1 of the questionnaire. Similarly, the 2015 SCS survey also included a split sample design, which was to compare two versions of an updated questionnaire on bullying that would provide data on repetition and power imbalance aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s uniform definition of bullying. Half the sample received version 1, and the other half received version 2. Any 2015 estimates in this indicator are based on the 50 percent of the sample who received version 1 of the questionnaire.

6 Analyses by school locale and control of school exclude students with missing information about the school characteristic.

7 For 2013 and prior years, the four-category school locale information (city, suburban, town, and rural) was not available and data by the control of school (public or private) were based on school information provided by the respondent. Beginning in 2015, data by the control of school were based on school information collected in the Common Core of Data and the Private School Universe Survey, which was appended to the School Crime Supplement data file and disaggregated at the student level; therefore, these data may not be entirely comparable with figures for earlier years.

8 The only exception was that the percentage of students of Two or more races who reported being bullied at school during the school year was higher in 2019 than in 2015 (37 vs. 18 percent).

9 Comparisons by race/ethnicity and control of school are omitted because estimates for some of the subgroups often did not meet reporting standards.

10 “Adult at school” refers to a teacher or other adult at school.

11 U.S. total data are representative of all public and private school students in grades 9–12 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. U.S. total data were collected through a separate national survey rather than being aggregated from state-level data. In this indicator, all YRBSS discussions about bullying, except those at the state level, are based on data from the national survey.

12 Since 2015, the YRBSS has included a question on students’ sexual identity by asking students in grades 9–12 which of the following best described them—“heterosexual (straight),” “gay or lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “not sure.” In this indicator, students who identified as “gay or lesbian” or “bisexual” are discussed together as the “gay, lesbian, or bisexual” group. Students were not asked whether they identified as transgender in the YRBSS.

13 For detailed state-level data on the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being electronically bullied during the 12 months preceding the survey, see table in the YRBSS Youth Online Data Analysis Tool.

14 For detailed state-level data on the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property during the 12 months preceding the survey, see table in the YRBSS Youth Online Data Analysis Tool.

Supplemental Information

Table 230.40 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by selected student and school characteristics: Selected years, 2005 through 2019;
Table 230.45 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying and selected student and school characteristics: Selected years, 2005 through 2019;
Table 230.50 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year and, among bullied students, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations, by selected student and school characteristics: 2019;
Table 230.55 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months, by selected student characteristics: Selected years, 2011 through 2019;
Table 230.60 (Digest 2020): Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying and the notification of an adult at school, by selected student and school characteristics: 2019
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Previous versions of this indicator available in the Indicators of School Crime and Safety reports.
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