Study finds bullying common among U.S. students

About 15 percent of U.S. fourth- graders and 7 percent of U.S. eighth-graders reported experiencing bullying at least once a month, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Department of Justice. These percentages were lower than the international averages for fourth-graders and eighth-graders, the report states.

The new report, based on data from 2014 and 2015, found that about 15 percent of third- graders reported that they were frequently teased, made fun of, or called names by other students; 22 percent were frequently the subject of lies or untrue stories; 14 percent were frequently pushed, shoved, slapped, hit, or kicked; and 15 percent were frequently excluded from play on purpose.

Third-graders who reported that they were frequently victimized scored lower in reading, mathematics, and science than their peers who reported that they were never victimized or that they were sometimes or rarely victimized.

“Bullying is a public health issue because it really affects the mental wellness and health of students and as we know at the extreme end it can lead to everything from suicide to reactive violence,” said David Osher, vice president at the American Institutes for Research, according to a report by the Associated Press. “Because it happens, it doesn’t mean it has to happen.”

The study also found:

  • In 2015, a higher percentage of self-identifed gay, lesbian, or bisexual students than of self- identifed heterosexual students reported that they had been bullied on school property during the previous 12 months, overall (34 vs. 19 percent) as well as among male (26 vs. 15 percent) and female students (37 vs. 23 percent). Similarly, with respect to electronic bullying, a higher percentage of gay, lesbian, or bisexual students reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months in 2015 than did heterosexual students, overall (28 vs. 14 percent) as well as among male (22 vs. 9 percent) and female students (30 vs. 21 percent).
  • In the United States, 7 percent of participating fourth-grade students attended schools that were less than safe and orderly, according to the data reported by their teachers. This was higher than the international average of 4 percent as well as higher than the percentages in 22 countries and not measurably different from the percentages in 19 countries. About 13 percent of participating U.S. eighth-grade students reported attending schools that were less than safe and orderly.
  • About 3 percent of U.S. fourth-graders and 2 percent of U.S. eighth-graders attended schools with moderate to severe discipline problems, according to data reported by their principals.

WEAC and NEA support campaigns to crack down on bullying in schools:

NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts with Me

A toolkit to help educators create bully free schools. The critical role that a positive school climate plays in bullying prevention. Valuable research to help turn your school into a bully free zone. Groundbreaking research by NEA and NEA partners examining perspectives on bullying and bullying prevention efforts.

Resources for reducing bullying in your classroom