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What Is Bullying?

Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening. 

-Bullying can happen in person or online, (cyberbullying) via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records).

-Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. (1)

  • -One out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied. (2)

  • 41% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they think the bullying would happen again (2)

  • The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation. (2)

  • 23% of African-American students, 23% of Caucasian students, 16% of Hispanic students, and 7% of Asian students report being bullied at school (2)

  • Race-related bullying is significantly associated with negative emotional and physical health effects (3)

  • 70.1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 59.1% because of their gender expression, and 53.2% based on gender (4)

  • 28.9% of LGBTQ students were physically bullied (e.g., pushed, shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 24.4% because of their gender expression, and 22.8% based on gender (4)

  • 48.7% of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying in the past year (4)

  • -34.8% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and 10.5% missed four or more days in the past month (4)

  • Students with specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavior disorders, other health impairments, and speech or language impairments report greater rates of victimization than their peers without disabilities longitudinally and their victimization remains consistent over time (5)

  • Researchers discovered that students with disabilities were more worried about school safety and being injured or harassed by other peers compared to students without a disability (6)

  • -One in five (20.9%) tweens (9 to 12 years old) has been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or seen cyberbullying. (7)

  • The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have more than doubled (18% to 37%) from 2007-2019 (7)

  • 49.8% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online. (7)

  • Tweens who were cyberbullied shared that it negatively impacted their feelings about themselves (69.1%), their friendships (31.9%), their physical health (13.1%), and their schoolwork (6.5%) (7)

  • Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. (8)

  • Students need not be the targets of bullying to experience negative outcomes. Observing bullying is associated with adverse mental health outcomes (9)

  • Bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%).  (2)

  • Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches. (10)

  • Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment. (11)

  • There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression, violent behavior, and substance abuse (12)

  • Students who report frequently bullying others and students who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior (13)

  • A meta-analysis found that students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization (14)

What Can You Do?

1. Know the signs. Domestic violence can happen to anyone—white, black, young, old, rich, poor, educated, not educated. Sometimes violence begins early on in a relationship and other times it takes months or even years to appear. But there generally are some warning signs. Educate yourself on what they are so you know when someone needs help

2. Don’t ignore it. Police officers hear the same thing from witnesses again and again—I heard/saw/perceived domestic violence but didn’t want to get involved. If you hear your neighbors engaged in a violent situation, call the police. It could save a life.

3. Lend an ear. If someone ever confides in you they are experiencing domestic violence, listen without judgment. Believe what they are telling you and ask how you can help.

4. Be available. If someone you know is thinking about leaving or is in fear the violence will escalate, be ready to help. Keep your phone with you and the ringer on, make sure you have gas in your car and discuss an escape plan or meeting place ahead of time.

5. Know the number to a nearby shelter. You never know who might need refuge in a hurry. Keep numbers to shelters and the National Domestic Violence Hotlinein your phone (800-799-7233).

6. Check in regularly. If a loved one or friend is in danger, reach out regularly to ensure his or her safety.

7. Be a resource. Someone experiencing violence may not be able to research shelters, escape plans or set up necessities like bank accounts and cell phones while living with his or her abuser. Offer to do the legwork to help ease stress and keep things confidential. 

8. Write it down. Document every incident you witness and include the date, time, location, injuries and circumstances. This information could be very useful in later police reports and court cases, both criminal and civil.

9. Get the word out. Assist a local shelter or domestic violence organization in their efforts to raise awareness in your community. Or use your personal connections to start a grassroots campaign. Organize talks at your workplace wellness fair, HOA meetings and church groups.

10. Put your money where your mouth is. Use your power as a consumer and refuse to support the culture perpetuated in music, movies, television, games and the media that glorifies violence, particularly against women. (12)

We Need Your Support Today!


Notes: National Center Against Bullying (   2-National Center For Educational Statistics, 2019 (  3 -Rosenthal et al, 2013 (   4- Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark & Truong, 2018 (  5- Rose & Gage, 2016 (   6-Saylor & Leach, 2009 (   7- Patchin & Hinduja, 2020 (   8-Centers For Disease Control, 2019 (   9-Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009 (  10-Gini & Espelage, 2014 (      1111 Perren, Ettakal & Ladd, 2013 (   12-Reed, Nugent, & Cooper, 2015 (   13- Centers For Disease Control, 2014 (   14-Gini & Espelage, 2014 (   15-Davis & Nixon, 2010 (    16-The Youth Voice Research Project, 2010 (

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