A third of students say they were bullied last school year, according to a report released today by nonprofit group YouthTruth.
That’s an increase from two years ago, when just over one in four students had been.
The survey was based on responses from more than 160,000 secondary students in 27 states. YouthTruth is hoping the results will be the catalyst for teachers and school districts to take bullying seriously and work with students to put an end to harmful behaviors.
Among the key findings:
- Middle school students were more likely to be bullied than high school students. Nearly 40 percent of middle-schoolers said they’d been bullied whereas 27 percent of high-schoolers said the same.
- Most bullying happens in person, with the majority of students saying they’d been verbally harassed.
- Most students who were bullied said it was because of how they looked. Sexual orientation and race were the next highest reasons.
Bullying affects health and well-being
The impact of bullying can be far-reaching.
Youth who get bullied can have physical injuries, social and emotional distress, self-harm and can even die, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It increases their risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement and dropping out of school.
Kids who bully are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems and experiencing violence later in adolescence and adulthood, the agency said.
The ones at the greatest risk for mental and behavioral problems, though, are those who bully others and are bullied themselves.
What parents and teachers can do to stop bullying
Having conversations with students about their experiences with bullying – and really listening to them – is a crucial step in stemming bullying, according to YouthTruth. Then, teachers and administrators can develop lesson plans and resources to help.
“We hope this data can inform conversations and support efforts to decrease bullying for all students,” said YouthTruth executive director Jen Wilka in a statement. “Building equitable schools means that all students feel welcome and supported.”