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Indicator 10: Bullying at School and Electronic Bullying
(Last Updated: April 2019)

Between 2005 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12—18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 29 to 20 percent. In 2017, about 15 percent of students in grades 912 reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months.

The School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey collected data on bullying51 by asking students ages 12–18 if they had been bullied at school52 during the school year. Students were also asked about the types and frequencies of bullying they had been subjected to, the specific characteristics related to the bullying, and whether bullying had a negative effect on various aspects of their life. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) also collected data on students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property53 or electronically bullied54 during the previous 12 months. This indicator first discusses bullying at school using the SCS data. It then uses the YRBS 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 data sources and terminology.

Between 2005 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 29 to 20 percent (figure 10.1 and table 10.1).55 However, there was no measurable difference between the percentages in 2015 and 2017. A declining trend between 2005 and 2017 in the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school was observed for most of the student and school characteristics examined: the percentage decreased for male students (from 27 to 17 percent) and female students (from 30 to 24 percent); White students (from 30 to 23 percent), Black students (from 29 to 23 percent), Hispanic students (from 22 to 16 percent), Asian students (from 21 to 7 percent), and students of Two or more races (from 35 to 23 percent); students in each grade from 6 through 12 (with decreases ranging from 6 to 11 percentage points); students in urban areas (from 26 to 18 percent) and suburban areas (from 29 to 20 percent); and public school students (from 29 to 21 percent). In addition, the percentage of private school students who reported being bullied at school was lower in 2017 than in 2005 (16 vs. 23 percent). Although the percentage of students in rural areas who reported being bullied at school in 2017 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2005, it was higher than the percentage in 2015 (27 vs. 18 percent).


Figure 10.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by urbanicity: Selected years, 2005 through 2017

Figure 10.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by urbanicity: Selected years, 2005 through 2017

NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Urbanicity refers to the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) status of the respondent’s household as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Categories include “central city of an MSA (Urban),” “in MSA but not in central city (Suburban),” and “not MSA (Rural).” These data by metropolitan status were based on the location of households and differ from those published in Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which were based on the urban-centric measure of the location of the school that the child attended.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005 through 2017.


In 2017, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (figure 10.2 and table 10.2). Of students ages 12–18, about 13 percent reported being the subject of rumors; 13 percent reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted; 5 percent reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5 percent reported being excluded from activities on purpose. Additionally, 4 percent of students reported being threatened with harm, 2 percent reported that others tried to make them do things they did not want to do, and 1 percent reported that their property was destroyed by others on purpose.


Figure 10.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying and sex: 2017

Figure 10.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying and sex: 2017

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, 2017.


In 2017, a higher percentage of female students than of male students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (24 vs. 17 percent). There were also differences in selected types of bullying by sex. A higher percentage of female students than of male students reported being the subject of rumors (18 vs. 9 percent); being made fun of, called names, or insulted (16 vs. 10 percent); and being excluded from activities on purpose (7 vs. 3 percent). In contrast, a higher percentage of male students than of female students reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (6 vs. 4 percent).

Overall, of students ages 12–18, higher percentages of students of Two or more races, Black students, and White students (23 percent each) than of Hispanic students (16 percent) and Asian students (7 percent) reported being bullied at school during the school year in 2017. In addition, higher percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native students (27 percent) and Hispanic students than of Asian students reported being bullied at school. Even though percentages were suppressed for some racial/ethnic groups due to small sample sizes and high standard errors, the measurable differences by race/ethnicity for the specific types of bullying followed similar patterns as for the differences for total bullying. For example, the percentages of students who reported being the subject of rumors and being made fun of, called names, or insulted were both higher for Black students and White students than for Hispanic students and Asian students. The percentages were also higher for students of Two or more races and Hispanic students than for Asian students.

Higher percentages of students in each grade from 6 through 8 than of students in each grade from 9 through 12 reported being bullied at school during the school year. In 2017, about 29 percent of 6th-graders, 25 percent of 8th-graders, and 24 percent of 7th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 19 percent each of 9th- and 10th-graders, 15 percent of 11th-graders, and 12 percent of 12th-graders. In addition, a higher percentage of 9th-graders than of 11th- and 12th-graders and a higher percentage of 10th-graders than of 12th-graders reported being bullied at school.

In 2017, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 in rural areas (27 percent) than of students in suburban areas (20 percent) and urban areas (18 percent) reported being bullied at school during the school year. A higher percentage of students in rural areas than of students in suburban areas reported being the subject of rumors (19 vs. 13 percent); being made fun of, called names, or insulted (16 vs. 13 percent); and being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (8 vs. 5 percent). In addition, a higher percentage of students in rural areas than of students in urban areas reported being the subject of rumors (19 vs. 11 percent) and being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (8 vs. 5 percent). There was no measurable difference between the percentages of public and private school students who reported being bullied at school, either overall or by specific types of bullying.

The SCS also asked students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year to indicate the location where they had been bullied. In 2017, of students who reported being bullied at school, 43 percent reported being bullied in the hallway or stairwell at school, 42 percent reported being bullied inside the classroom, and 27 percent reported being bullied in the cafeteria (figure 10.3 and table 10.3). About 22 percent of students who were bullied reported being bullied outside on school grounds, 15 percent reported being bullied online or by text, 12 percent reported being bullied in the bathroom or locker room, 8 percent reported being bullied on the school bus, and 2 percent reported being bullied somewhere else in the school building.


Figure 10.3. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2017

Figure 10.3. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2017

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. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2017.


There were some differences by student and school characteristics in the locations where students ages 12–18 reported they were bullied during the school year. For example, a higher percentage of female students than of male students reported being bullied online or by text (21 vs. 7 percent). The percentage of students who reported being bullied online or by text was also higher for 11th-graders (22 percent), 10th-graders (22 percent), and 9th-graders (20 percent) than for 6th-graders (7 percent), and it was higher for 10th-graders than for 7th-graders (13 percent), 8th-graders (12 percent), and 12th-graders (12 percent). Higher percentages of Black students (46 percent) and White students (43 percent) than of Hispanic students (36 percent) reported being bullied inside the classroom. A higher percentage of students in suburban areas than of those in rural areas reported being bullied in the cafeteria (30 vs. 21 percent); in contrast, a higher percentage of students in rural areas than of those in suburban area reported being bullied outside on school grounds (29 vs. 18 percent).

In 2017, about 31 percent of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year indicated that they were bullied on 1 day in the school year, 19 percent indicated that they were bullied on 2 days in the school year, 30 percent indicated that they were bullied on 3 to 10 days in the school year, and 20 percent indicated that they were bullied on more than 10 days in the school year (figure 10.4 and table 10.4). Although a higher percentage of male students than of female students reported being bullied on 1 day in the school year (36 vs. 27 percent), a higher percentage of female than of male students reported being bullied on more than 10 days in the school year (23 vs. 17 percent). A higher percentage of White students (24 percent) than of Hispanic students (14 percent) and Black students (13 percent) also reported being bullied on more than 10 days in the school year.


Figure 10.4. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2017

Figure 10.4. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2017

1 Includes students who reported being bullied 1 day in the school year but did not report how many times in the day the bullying occurred. No students reported being bullied more than ten times in the day.
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. Those who reported being bullied on 1 day in the school year were further asked to report how many times in the day they were bullied. 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, 2017.


Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year in 2017, about 46 percent reported notifying an adult at school56 about the incident. Higher percentages of 6th- and 7th-graders (57 percent each) than of 9th-graders (39 percent), 10th-graders (38 percent), and 12th-graders (33 percent) and a higher percentage of 8th-graders (47 percent) than of 12th-graders reported notifying an adult at school after being bullied. The percentage of students who reported notifying an adult at school after being bullied was highest for those who reported being bullied on more than ten days in the school year (64 percent) and lowest for those who reported being bullied on one day in the school year (31 percent).

Students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year were asked to indicate how much bullying had a negative effect on various aspects of their life. In 2017, about 27 percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on how they felt about themselves, 19 percent each indicated that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their school work and on their relationships with friends or family, and 14 percent indicated that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their physical health (figure 10.5 and table 10.5).


Figure 10.5. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting that bullying had varying degrees of negative effect on various aspects of their life, by aspect of life affected: 2017

Figure 10.5. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting that bullying had varying degrees of negative effect on various aspects of their life, by aspect of life affected: 2017

NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. 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, 2017.


Students ages 12–18 were also asked whether they had been subjected to bullying related to a specific characteristic. In 2017, about 42 percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that the bullying was related to at least one of the following characteristics: physical appearance (30 percent), race (10 percent), gender (8 percent), disability (7 percent), ethnicity (7 percent), religion (5 percent), and sexual orientation (4 percent; table 10.6).

As mentioned in the introduction, the YRBS collected data on electronic bullying for students in grades 9–12. In 2017, about 15 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months (figure 10.6 and table 10.7). This percentage was not measurably different from the percentages reported in 2011 (the first year of data collection for this item) or in 2015. The percentage of students who reported being electronically bullied in 2017 was higher for female students than for male students (20 vs. 10 percent); higher for White students (17 percent) and students of Two or more races (16 percent) than for Black students (11 percent) and Asian students (10 percent) and higher for White students than for Hispanic students (12 percent); higher for gay, lesbian, or bisexual students (27 percent) and students who were not sure of their sexual orientation (22 percent) than for heterosexual students (13 percent); and higher for 9th-graders than for 12th-graders (17 vs. 13 percent).


Figure 10.6. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2017

Figure 10.6. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2017

NOTE: Electronic bullying includes “being bullied through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media.” Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2017.


The YRBS also collected data on electronic bullying anywhere and bullying on school property at the state level. In 2017, data on the percentages of students in grades 9–12 who reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months were available for 39 states and the District of Columbia (table 10.8).57 Among these jurisdictions, the percentages of students who reported being electronically bullied ranged from 9 percent in the District of Columbia to 21 percent in Louisiana. Data on the percentages of students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property during the previous 12 months were also available for 38 states and the District of Columbia. Among these jurisdictions, the percentages of students who reported being bullied on school property ranged from 12 percent in the District of Columbia to 27 percent in Arkansas. On this survey, 19 percent of students in the United States reported being bullied on school property in 2017.


This indicator has been updated to include 2017 data. For more information: Tables 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2017/ss6708.pdf), and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/.


51 “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.
52 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
53 In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 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 survey respondents.
54 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.
55 Prior data are excluded from the time series due to a significant redesign of the bullying items in 2005.
56 “Adult at school” refers to a teacher or other adult at school.
57 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.