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U.S. Department of Education NCES 2020-042 November 2020
Electronic Bullying: Online and by Text

The data used in this report come from the 2017 School Crime Supplement (SCS), a nationally representative sample survey of students ages 12 through 18 enrolled in public or private school for all or part of the school year (not homeschooled for all of the school year). The SCS is administered every other year to students as a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The SCS collects additional information from students in NCVS households about their experiences of bullying, the bullying’s negative effects on the student, and fear and avoidance behaviors of the student.

FIGURE 1. Among students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school, percentage reporting bullying location, by student and school characteristics: School year 2016–17

FIGURE 1. Among students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school, percentage reporting bullying location, by student and school characteristics: School year 2016–17

1 Races other than White includes respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic or Latino origins regardless of race identified and those who identified themselves as Black, Asian, Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, Native American or Alaska Natives, and respondents of Two or more races.
2 Population estimates for school characteristics are based on respondents for whom data on school and bullying are available (93.6 percent of students).
NOTE: Tabular data include only students who reported being enrolled in grades 6 through 12 and not receiving any of their education through homeschooling during the school year reported. ”Bullied“ includes students who reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted; 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; being excluded from activities on purpose; and having property destroyed on purpose. Those who were bullied online or by text may also have been bullied in other ways or locations. Total bullied is based on respondents for whom data on bullying are available (98.5 percent of students). Population size based on the 2017 School Crime Supplement (SCS) for all students meeting the age, grade, and school criteria is 25,023,000. Tabular data for percentages and their standard errors are available at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/crime_tables.asp.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 2017.

For the 2016–2017 school year, 20.2 percent of students reported being bullied in person at school (data not shown in figures)1 of which 15 percent (or 3 percent overall) also reported being bullied electronically—either online or by text (figure 1).2 This report investigates the relationship between those students who were bullied online or by text and their demographic characteristics. It also examines students’ reports of the overall negative effects of being bullied online or by text, as well as avoidance behaviors, impacts on attendance, and whether victims notified an adult of the bullying.

Among students who were bullied, a higher percentage of female students, White students, and high school students were bullied online or by text than male students, students of races other than White, and middle school students, respectively (figure 1).

  • Among students who reported being bullied, female students reported being bullied online or by text ata rate three times that of males (21 percent vs. 7 percent).
  • Seventeen percent of White students who reported being bullied were bullied online or by text, compared with 12 percent of students of racesother than White.
  • A higher percentage of high school students reported being bullied online or by text (19 percent) than the percentage of middle school students (12 percent).

FIGURE 2. Among students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school, percentage reporting negative effects by bullying location: School year 2016–17

FIGURE 2. Among students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school, percentage reporting negative effects by bullying location: School year 2016–17

1 Includes students who reported being affected ”somewhat“ or ”a lot“ in at least one area when asked if a) bullying had a negative effect on their school work, b) their relationships with friends or family, c) how they felt about themselves, or d) their physical health in this school year.
2 Includes any respondent who responded ”yes“ to one of the following: ”Did you stay away from the following places: Shortest route to school, the entrance into the school, any hallways or stairs in school, parts of the school cafeteria or grounds, school bus or bus stop“ as well as those who responded ”yes“ to ”Did you avoid any activities at your school because you thought someone might attack or harm you?“ and ”Did you avoid any classes because you thought someone might attack or harm you?“
3 Those who responded ”yes“ to ”Did you stay home from school because you thought someone might attack or harm you in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to or from school?“
NOTE: Tabular data include only students who reported being enrolled in grades 6 through 12 and not receiving any of their education through homeschooling during the school year reported. ”Bullied“ includes students who reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted; 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; being excluded from activities on purpose; and having property destroyed on purpose. Those who were bullied online or by text may also have been bullied in other ways or locations. Types of negative effects may sum to more than total because students could have experienced more than one type of effect. Total bullied is based on respondents for whom data on bullying are available (98.5 percent of students) and includes all students who reported any type of bullying at school. Population size based on the 2017 School Crime Supplement for all students meeting the age, grade, and school criteria is 25,023,000. Tabular data for percentages and their standard errors are available at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/crime_tables.asp.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 2017.

Students who were bullied online or by text reported relatively more negative effects than those who reported being bullied in person (figure 2).

  • Students who reported being bullied online or by text reported higher rates of reporting any negative effects (63 percent), including negative effects in at least one of the following: on their school work, relationships with friends or family, how they felt about themselves, or their physical health than those who were bullied in person only (37 percent).
  • Students who reported being bullied online or by text reported higher rates of avoiding a location or activity at school (29 percent) than those students who reported being bullied in person only (19 percent).
  • Similarly, students who reported being bullied online or by text reported higher rates of staying home from school (13 percent) than those students who reported being bullied in person only (3 percent).
  • A higher percentage of students who reported being bullied online or by text reported telling an adult about the bullying (56 percent), compared to those students who reported being bullied in person only (45 percent).

Endnotes

1 Percentages of students who reported being bullied in any way by student or school characteristic 2016–2017 school year: male (16.7 percent), female (23.8 percent), white not Hispanic or Latino (22.8 percent), races other than white (17.4 percent), middle school (26.7 percent), high school (16.8 percent).
2 Those who were bullied online or by text were not bullied exclusively online or by text. All students who reported being bullied online or by text also reported being bullied in another location (i.e., classroom, hallway or stairwell, bathroom/locker room, school cafeteria, outside on school grounds, or school bus).

Data in this report are from the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization report. To learn more about the survey, visit https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime. For questions about content or to download additional copies, go to https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2020042.

This National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Data Point presents information on education topics of current interest. It was authored by Christina Yanez, Melissa Seldin, and Rebecca Mann of Synergy Enterprises, Inc. All estimates shown are based on samples and are subject to sampling variability. All differences discussed in this report are statistically significant at the .05 level without adjustments for multiple comparisons. In the design, conduct, and data processing of NCES surveys, efforts are made to minimize the effects of nonsampling errors, such as item nonresponse, measurement error, data processing error, or other systematic error.