October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, which provides an opportunity for schools, communities, and states to talk about the best ways to prevent bullying. CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention recognizes efforts to improve the school environment and to prevent bullying nationwide. Learn more about your role in prevention and join our efforts to stop bullying.
What CDC Is Doing
CDC works to prevent bullying before it starts. We support evidence-based actions in communities to more effectively prevent bullying and youth violence. Research on preventing bullying is still developing, but promising evidence is available for school-wide programs. CDC is a federal leader in conducting surveillance and research activities to better understand and prevent bullying. Learn more about CDC’s activities to prevent bullying.
The percentage of public schools that reported student bullying occurred at least once a week was highest for middle schools (25 percent).1
Middle schools reported the highest rate of bullying (25%) among public schools that reported bullying at least once a week.
Bullying at a Glance
Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youth, who are not siblings or dating partners, which involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. It can harm someone physically, emotionally, and academically. The damaging effects of bullying do not stop at the individual, and in fact, negatively impacts peers, families, schools, and even neighborhoods. Bullying can occur anywhere. It happens in-person and electronically (known as cyberbullying) as well as in and outside of schools.
- The latest 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey [2.77 MB] (YRBS) showed that 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months before the survey. Additionally, 16 percent of high school students reported they have been bullied electronically in the past 12 months.2 Electronic bullying or cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through email, a chat room, instant messaging, a website, text messaging, or videos or pictures posted on websites or sent through cell phones.
- According to the 2013 and 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Surveys, 33 percent of students ages 12 to 18 who reported being bullied at school and 27 percent of students who reported being cyberbullied anywhere, indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month.1, 3
- Female students aged 12–18 were more likely than males to report being made fun of, called names, or insulted, to be the subject of rumors, and to be excluded from activities on purpose. However, male students were more likely to report being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on.2-3
Risk and Protective Factors
Numerous factors can increase the risk of a youth engaging in or experiencing bullying. The presence of these factors, however, does not always mean that a young person will become someone who bullies or one who is bullied by others.
Factors associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in bullying behavior include poor impulse control, harsh parenting by caregivers, and attitudes that accept violence. Factors associated with a higher likelihood of victimization include relationship difficulties, poor self-esteem, and being perceived by peers as different or quiet.
Few researchers have looked at the factors that protect a youth from bullying others or from being bullied by others. What we do know is that having positive problem solving skills, supportive families, and a positive school climate can help decrease bullying behaviors. The CDC fact sheet, Understanding Bullying [264 KB], provides more information about bullying and its prevention.
Visit StopBullying.gov for additional resources and information.
Publications and Websites
- Understanding Bullying Fact Sheet [184 KB]
- Bullying Surveillance Among Youths: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements, Version 1.0 [8.64 MB]
- Measuring Bullying [21.7 MB]
- The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools [4.78 MB]
- A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors
- Division of Violence Prevention, Youth Violence Prevention
- Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE)
- Youth Violence Prevention Centers
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
- CDC’s VetoViolence Facebook Page
- Stopbullying.gov Facebook Page
- Youth Violence Prevention Information on CDC’s Veto Violence Website
- Follow @CDCInjury on Twitter
- Musu-Gillette, L., Zhang, A., Wang, K., Zhang, J., and Oudekerk, B.A. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016 [2.75 MB] (NCES 2017-064/NCJ 250650). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; 2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2015 [2.77 MB]. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2016; 65(SS10).
- U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2015.
- Page last reviewed: October 10, 2017
- Page last updated: October 10, 2017
- Content source:
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs