According to a 2014 report produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) titled Bullying Surveillance Among Youth: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements, “Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.”
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by American University’s School of Education program.
Statistics & Overview
Students in the United States today face numerous challenges on campus among their peers. One of these challenges, unfortunately, is bullying.
These studies indicate that 28% of U.S. students from grades 6 to 12 experience bullying. They also indicate that 20% of U.S. high school students (from grades 9 to 12) experience bullying. On the other end of the spectrum, one in three young people admit in surveys that they have bullied others. These actions don’t necessarily happen in private either. According to various studies that 70.6% of young people state that they’ve seen bullying at school. Some of this visibility has led to active intervention, which has positive results. Studies show that when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.
Cyberbullying is also a problem for U.S. students. Studies indicate 9% of students from grades 6 to 12 have experienced cyberbullying. This number jumps up to 15% amongst U.S. high school students (from grades 9 to 12). When studies focus on LGBTQ students, the percentage of students cyberbullied dramatically increases to 55.2%.
Types of Bullying and the Percentage of Middle School Students Experiencing Them
Acts associated with physical bullying include hitting, kicking, spitting, tripping, punching, and pushing. Studies indicate 32.4% of middle school students have experienced bullying via pushing or shoving. The studies also show 29.2% of middle school students have experienced hitting, slapping, or kicking.
Acts associated with verbal bullying include name-calling, taunting, threatening or offensive notes, and inappropriate sexual comments. According to studies, 44.2% of middle school children have experienced name-calling. Studies also indicate that 43.3% of middle school kids have experienced teasing, and 23.7% of middle school children have experienced inappropriate sexual comments of gestures.
Acts associated with relational bullying include spreading false and/or harmful rumors, efforts to isolate the targeted student from peers, publicly writing derogatory comments, or posting embarrassing images in a physical or electronic space without the targeted student’s knowledge or permission. Studies indicate that 36.3% of middle school students have experienced the spreading of rumors or lies at their expense. Studies also show that 28.5% of middle school students have experienced being left out.
Damage to Property
Acts associated with property damage bullying include theft, altering or damaging the targeted student’s property, destroying a student’s property in their presence, or deleting personal electronic information.
Kids that experience bullying may exhibit various physical signs that correlate to negative effects, either personally or peripherally. These can include unexplainable injuries, frequent headaches or stomachaches, and lost or destroyed personal property. Kids may also demonstrate various negative behavioral signs, such as feigning illness or sickness, difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares, changes in eating habits, poor or declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school, feeling helpless or having a low sense of self-esteem. In some cases, the behavioral effects can manifest into self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm, talking about suicide, or running away from home
Tips and Resources to Help Teachers Manage and Prevent Bullying
Because less than half (40%) of bullying incidents are reported to adults, teachers have to make an effort to prevent bullying. There are many online resources, activities, and tips that can aid teachers into adopting a strong stance against bullying and creating a safe, protective school environment.
One of the ways teachers can do this is to understand school and district policies on bullying. This would include understanding disciplinary action and the role and responsibilities of teachers. Another tactic to deploy is to treat students with warmth and respect. This can be achieved by showing a positive interest in students by engaging them in casual conversation. Teachers can also establish their position of authority. By showing students that you are responsible for making sure their time at school is positive and safe, students should pick up on their role in educating about, protecting against, and disciplining bullying behavior.
Incorporation of Activities and Lessons that Teach About Bullying
Another way teachers can help prevent bullying is through education. This can be done by incorporating activities and lessons that tech about bullying within their curriculum.
One way this can be done is through conducting research. Students can look up the various types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how they should respond. Another key educational tactic is to lead students into a discussion about how to report bullying. Establishing a participatory classroom meeting where students can talk about peer relations.
Teachers can also deploy creative tactics to cover bullying prevention. Students can engage in creative writing sessions, where they can write poems, create skits, or write a story that teach bystanders how to stop bullying. They can also create presentations involving role-playing scenarios that demonstrate what students should say and how students should act to stop bullying. They can also lead students to create art projects such as collages, paintings, or crafts with themes of respect or themes that document the effects of bullying.
Teachers can also engage students by discussing bullying and its effects outside the classroom setting. For instance, teachers can discuss and design rules for appropriate internet behavior, where they can engage students in a conversation about their responsibilities as cyber citizens. They can also discuss bullying with colleagues via sharing concerns, monitoring school environment, or the investigation of bullying incidents. If bullying is observed, they can take immediate action by contacting the parents of all students involved. In serious cases of cyberbullying, this could also include reporting the incident to the police.
Online Resources and Programs
Numerous training, webinars, and guides have been developed to help teachers understand bullying. This includes understanding its effects and how to prevent and discipline bullying behaviors.
One source is the National Center of Safe Supportive Learning Environments. This source grants teachers access to guides and training products, school climate improvement tools, events, news articles, and federal resources.
Another source stems from the National PTA. Their Connect for Respect (C4R) Toolkit is designed to help guide a PTA/PTSA in improving the school climate and reducing bullying via the engagement of students.
The tech company Dosomething.org is another key resource. This company is devoted to young people and social change, with various campaigns to reduce bullying.
Another key nonprofit resource is No Bully. This nonprofit partners with organizations like Burger King, ESPN, TOMS, and Abercrombie & Fitch to reach its vision of bully-free schools worldwide via an evidence-based program that leverage student empathy.
There is also a movement called Not in Our Town that enables teacher involvement. This movement aims to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe environments by providing middle school and high school teaches with an activity idea mapping bully zones and conducting flash freeze demonstrations to raise bullying awareness.
Finally, teachers can look into the Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) program. This program is geared toward elementary and middle school students, specifically recruiting “socially influential” students to become ambassadors for a safe school environment.
A Critical Responsibility
Bullying is a humiliating experience, one that can make students feel helpless and afraid of reaching out for help from an adult. Students may not know how to respond to bullying, and this could potentially lead to the development of harmful or unhealthy coping habits. It is the responsibility of teachers and school staff to educate students about the harmful effects of bullying, encourage respect via numerous classroom activities, and adopt a school-wide program to prevent bullying.