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Indicator 11: Bullying at School and Cyberbullying Anywhere
(Last Updated: May 2017)

Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 28 to 21 percent. A higher percentage of female than of male students reported being bullied at school during the school year in 2015 (23 vs. 19 percent).

The 2015 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey collected data on bullying56 by asking students ages 12–18 if they had been bullied at school57 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. Until 2013, data on cyberbullying58 anywhere were also collected in the SCS. Due to this change in the questionnaire, this indicator primarily discusses bullying at school using SCS data up to 2015 and then briefly discusses cyberbullying data from the 2013 SCS. This indicator also uses data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to examine the percentages of students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property59 or electronically bullied60 during the previous 12 months by state. Readers should take note of the differing data sources and terminology.

In 2015, about 21 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (figure 11.1 and table 11.1). Of students ages 12–18, about 13 percent reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 12 percent reported being the subject of rumors; 5 percent reported that they were 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, 3 percent reported that others tried to make them do things they did not want to do, and 2 percent reported that their property was destroyed by others on purpose.


Figure 11.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying and sex: 2015

Figure 11.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by type of bullying and sex: 2015

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, 2015


In 2015, a higher percentage of female than of male students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (23 vs. 19 percent), as well as being the subject of rumors (15 vs. 9 percent). In contrast, a higher percentage of male than of female students reported being threatened with harm (5 vs. 3 percent).

Higher percentages of Black students (25 percent) and White students (22 percent) than of Hispanic students (17 percent) reported being bullied at school in 2015. The percentage of students who reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted was also higher for Black students (17 percent) and White students (14 percent) than for Hispanic students (9 percent). The percentage of students who reported being the subject of rumors was higher for Black students (14 percent), White students (13 percent), and Hispanic students (10 percent) than for Asian students (5 percent).

A higher percentage of students in grade 6 than of students in grades 8 through 12 reported being bullied at school during the school year. In 2015, about 31 percent of 6th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 22 percent of 8th-graders, 19 percent of 9th-graders, 21 percent of 10th-graders, 16 percent of 11th-graders, and 15 percent of 12th-graders. In addition, a higher percentage of 7th-graders (25 percent) than of 11th- and 12th-graders reported being bullied at school. The percentage was also higher for 8th- and 10th-graders than for 12th-graders. No measurable differences were observed in the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school by urbanicity or between those in public and private schools.

The SCS also asked students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school to indicate the location where they had been victimized. In 2015, of students who reported being bullied during the school year, 42 percent reported that the bullying occurred in the hallway or stairwell at school, 34 percent reported being bullied inside the classroom, and 22 percent reported being bullied in the cafeteria (figure 11.2 and table 11.2). About 19 percent of students who were bullied reported that the bullying occurred outside on school grounds, 11 percent reported that it occurred online or by text, 10 percent reported that it occurred on the school bus, 9 percent reported that it occurred in the bathroom or locker room, and 1 percent reported that it occurred somewhere else in school.


Figure 11.2. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2015

Figure 11.2. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage who reported being bullied in various locations: 2015

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. In 2015, 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, 2015.


In 2015, about 67 percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied once or twice in the school year and 33 percent indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year. Specifically, 19 percent reported being bullied once or twice a month, 10 percent reported being bullied once or twice a week, and 4 percent reported being bullied almost every day (figure 11.3 and table 11.3). Of all students who reported being bullied at school in 2015, about 43 percent reported notifying an adult at school61 about the incident. Higher percentages of 6th- and 7th-graders than of 9th- through 12th-graders and a higher percentage of 8th-graders than of 10th- and 12th-graders reported notifying an adult after being bullied at school. In addition, the percentage of students who reported notifying an adult at school after being bullied was higher for those who reported being bullied once or twice a week than for those who reported being bullied once or twice a year (63 vs. 37 percent).


Figure 11.3. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2015

Figure 11.3. Among students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, percentage reporting various frequencies of bullying: 2015

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, 2015.


In the 2015 SCS, students 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. About 19 percent of students who reported being bullied at school reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on how they felt about themselves, 14 percent each reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their relationships with friends or family and on their school work, and 9 percent reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their physical health (figure 11.4 and table 11.4).


Figure 11.4. 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: 2015

Figure 11.4. 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: 2015

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, 2015.


Students were also asked whether they had been subjected to bullying about a specific characteristic in the 2015 SCS. About 39 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 (27 percent), race (10 percent), ethnicity (7 percent), gender (7 percent), disability (4 percent), religion (4 percent), and sexual orientation (3 percent; table 11.5).

Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of students reporting being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 28 to 21 percent (table 11.1).62 However, there was no measurable difference between the percentages in 2013 and 2015. A declining trend between 2005 and 2015 in the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school was also observed for some of the student and school characteristics examined. For example, the percentage of male students who reported being bullied at school decreased from 27 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2015. During the same period, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school decreased for students in both suburban (from 29 to 21 percent) and rural areas (from 29 to 18 percent), as well as for students in public schools (from 29 to 21 percent; figure 11.5 and table 11.1).


Figure 11.5. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by selected school characteristics: Selected years, 2005 through 2015

Figure 11.5. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, by selected school characteristics: Selected years, 2005 through 2015

1 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 Students 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.
2 Control of school as reported by the respondent. These data differ from those based on a matching of the respondent-reported school name to the Common Core of Data's Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey or the Private School Survey, as reported in Students Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
NOTE: "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005 through 2015.


Between the 2013 and 2015 SCS data collections, it was determined that cyberbullying is best classified as a means of bullying; thus, the 2015 instrument included "online or by text" in the list of locations where bullying could have occurred, as discussed earlier in this indicator. In 2013 and earlier years, the SCS included a separate series of questions on cyberbullying experiences that occurred anywhere. In 2013, approximately 7 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being cyberbullied anywhere during the school year (table 11.6). About 3 percent of students reported that another student had posted hurtful information about them on the Internet, and 3 percent reported being the subject of harassing text messages. Some 2 percent reported being the subject of harassing instant messages and 1 percent each reported having their private information purposely shared on the Internet, being the subject of harassing e-mails, being harassed while gaming, and being excluded online.

About 73 percent of students who reported being cyberbullied anywhere in 2013 indicated that they were cyberbullied once or twice in the school year and 27 percent indicated that they were cyberbullied at least once or twice a month during the school year: 15 percent reported being cyberbullied once or twice a month, 8 percent reported being cyberbullied once or twice a week, and 4 percent reported being cyberbullied almost every day (table 11.3). Of all students who reported being cyberbullied in 2013, about 23 percent reported notifying an adult at school about the incident.

As mentioned in the introduction, the YRBS collects data on bullying and electronic bullying for students in grades 9–12. In 2015, data on the percentages of students in grades 9–12 who reported being bullied on school property during the previous 12 months were available for 35 states and the District of Columbia (table 11.7). Among these jurisdictions, the percentages of students who reported being bullied on school property ranged from 12 percent in the District of Columbia to 26 percent in Michigan, Idaho, and Nebraska. On this survey, 20 percent of students in the United States reported being bullied on school property in 2015. Data on the percentages of students who reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months in 2015 were also available for 36 states and the District of Columbia. Among these jurisdictions, the percentages of students who reported being electronically bullied ranged from 8 percent in the District of Columbia to 21 percent in Idaho. About 16 percent of students in the United States reported being electronically bullied in 2015.


This indicator repeats information from the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016 report. For more information: Tables 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, and 11.7, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016a), (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2015/ss6506_updated.pdf), Lessne and Cidade (2017), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017004), and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/.


56 "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.
57 "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
58 "Cyberbullying" includes students who responded that another student had posted hurtful information about them on the Internet; purposely shared private information about them on the Internet; threatened or insulted them through instant messaging; threatened or insulted them through text messaging; threatened or insulted them through e-mail; threatened or insulted them while gaming; or excluded them online.
59 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.
60 Being electronically bullied includes "being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting."
61 "Adult at school" refers to a teacher or other adult at school.
62 Prior data are excluded from the time series due to a significant redesign of the bullying items in 2005.