New Data Suggest Bullying Remains High

CENTER CITY, MINN. (October 9, 2014) – Hazelden Publishing, Clemson University, and Professional Data Analysts, Inc. are releasing a new white paper/report card on bullying in the U.S. According to the report "despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and antibullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth."

A stratified random sample of 20,000 Olweus Bullying Questionnaires™ was selected from over 200,000 collected during the 2012-2013 school year from schools all across the United States that had not yet implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The sample included 1,000 girls and 1,000 boys from each grade between third through twelfth -- and the results were broken down by grade level and gender. The most striking findings are:

  • The overall percentage of boys and girls involved in bullying (as one who bullied others, was bullied by others, or both) was 18% of all students surveyed.
  • The highest prevalence of bullying was in third and fourth grades, where roughly 22% of school children reported that they were bullied two or three times or more per month.
  • Cyberbullying was one of the least common forms of bullying experienced. Only 4% of boys and 6% of girls reported being cyber bullied two or three times a month or more.  Students were less likely to be cyberbullied than to have been bullied in any of the following ways: called mean names (verbal bullying), the target of rumors or lies, deliberatively left out (exclusion), bullied with words with sexual meaning, bullied about race, physically bullied, or threatened to do things against his or her will.
  • Some forms of bullying, such as cyberbullying and being bullied in ways that had a sexual meaning, were much more common among high school students than elementary or middle school students.
  • On average, students reported that they were bullied in 4 different ways; only 16% said they were bullied in only one way.
  • Bullying incidents are not restricted to one location-- 20% of students who are bullied report it happening in two locations and 45% report being bullied in 3 or more locations.
  • Students who reported being bullied as well as bullying others (bully-victims) experienced the most forms of bullying. In fact by high school, on average these students experienced six different forms of bullying two to three times or more per month.
  • A substantial proportion of bullied students did not confide in anyone about being bullied, and boys were less likely to confide in others than girls. For girls: 17% of third through fifth graders, 23% of middle schoolers, and 27% of high school youth kept silent about bullying they had experienced. For boys: 22% of third through fifth graders kept silent; 29% in middle school; and a very high 43% in high school.
  • Although more than 90% of girls and 80% of boys said they felt sorry for students who are bullied, far fewer reached out to help them.
  • The confidence students had in the administrative and teaching staff to address bullying was low. By high school, less than one-third of bullied students had reported the bullying to adults at school, and only 36% of all high school students said that school staff often addressed bullying in school.

Despite significant attention about bullying from policymakers, educators, and community members, the number of students who are bullied remains unacceptably high. The results of this report show that there is still much work to be done in strengthening school environments so that every student has a safe place to learn and grow.

About The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care to help youth and adults reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery.

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