Bullying Statistics: What Is Really Going on in Schools?

We all know that bullying in school has become a problem that is gaining increased press in recent years. At first, much of the outcry against bullying centered on the “part of life” notion that adults are feign to take when tackling teen issues. However, over time, the problems presented by bullying have become more and more apparent. People are scared and it’s easy to see why. For example, some LGBTQ groups decry bullying statistics as high as 70% of all students experiencing some degree of bullying in school.

What’s real and what should you believe? I did some investigating of my own and found two, well-researched articles from the Journal of Adolescent Health that shed some important light on the reality of bullying statistics in terms of who, what, when, where and how.

Statistical Overview: A 2009 Survey

The most comprehensive, studied bullying statistics that I could find hail from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. A study released in 2009 asked 7,182 students from grade 6-10 a series of questions based on the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire – the international standard in measuring bullying in school. The study looked at four types of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Here’s a rundown of their most important findings:

  • Verbal bullying (name calling, teasing, etc.) was by far the most prevalent with 53.6% of student reporting some sort of involvement (either as bullies or as victims)
  • Relational bullying (social isolation, spreading rumors, etc.) was a close second with 51.4% of students reporting some degree of involvement.
  • Physical bullying (being pushed, hit, kicked, etc.) was less likely to occur, with 20.8% of students reporting involvement.
  • Finally, cyberbullying, was last on the list with only 13.6% of students claiming involvement (more on this later).

This NIH-commissioned study also found some important facts regarding the likelihood of being cast as a bully, victim, or both based on a number of additional factors. Among these findings were:

  • Boys were much more likely to engage in physical bullying, whereas girls principle method was relational bullying.
  • African-American students were the least likely to be bullied.
  • Hispanic students were the most likely to engage in physical bullying.
  • Positive parental support was reported to decrease a student’s likelihood of becoming either bully or a victim.
  • Friendships were found to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim, while increasing the likelihood of engaging in bullying behaviors.

A Closer Look at Cyberbullying: A New Survey Revealed

In my research, I was also fortunate enough to gain access to an “in press” article from the Crimes against Children Research Center in Durham, NH. This new study sought to unveil the effects of the internet on today’s youth. Over the course of ten years (2000, 2005, and 2010), researchers asked young people about their experiences online and found some rather interesting facts:

  • The last decade has seen a tremendous decrease in sexual solicitation (50% decrease) and unwanted exposure to pornography (25%-34% decrease) among youth aged 10-17.
  • However, online harassment, including cases of cyberbullying, has been on a rapid incline. In 2000 only 6% of students reported being harassed online. That number increased to 9% in 2005 and is holding steady at 13% in 2010 (findings similar to the bullying study above).

The authors of this article make an important point about bullying statistics that I will leave you with:

Trends provide evidence for some optimism that protective adaptations to the online environment have been successful; however, online harassment appears to be increasing for youth, particularly girls, and may require additional mobilization (Jones, Mitchel, Finkelhor, 2011).


Jones, L.M., Mitchell, K.J. & Finkelhor, D. (2011) Trends in youth internet victimization: Findings from three youth internet safety surveys 2000–2010. Journal of Adolescent Health. In Press.


Wayne, J.,  Ionnatti, R.J. & Nansel, T.R. (2009) School bullying among adolescents in the United States: Physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health. 45:4, 368-75.

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About Author


Andrea is a college writing teacher whose work experience includes everything from coordinating YMCA after-school programs for at-risk youth to tutoring developmental writing students to general classroom instruction. In addition to writing professionally for essay writing service Essay Tigers, Andrea currently teaches a range of adult community college students in both online and physical classroom settings. At home, she keeps in shape by running after her two young daughters.

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