SAN FRANCISCO – A quarter of American students report being a victim of bullying, according to new data released today from YouthTruth Student Survey, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that collects students’ insights on school experiences. The aggregate data was collected from nearly 80,000 public school students across the country in grades five through twelve. Of the nearly 20,000 bullied students, a vast majority report being bullied in person rather than online.
When students experienced bullying, it occurred in the following ways:
- 79 percent of students report being verbally bullied.
- 50 percent of students report being socially bullied.
- 29 percent of students report being physically bullied.
- 25 percent of students report being cyber bullied.
“It is our goal to give students across America a clear voice, which in turn helps educators and school leaders better understand and act on some of the biggest challenges facing their schools,” says YouthTruth Executive Director Jen Vorse Wilka. “Bullying is a topic that students may be reticent to come forward and talk about openly. These new findings illustrate that bullying remains prevalent in the lives of many students, and that despite the amount of time students spend online, bullying is still primarily occurring in person. It is our hope that these results will shed light on an issue about which it is difficult to get candid feedback, and help serve as a catalyst for change.”
The survey also found that students experiencing cyber bullying report that they are also bullied in person. Specifically, of students who are cyber bullied, 74 percent are also being verbally harassed, 68 percent are being socially harassed and 38 percent are physically bullied by their peers.
When asked why they thought they were being bullied, 44 percent of students cited their appearance. Additionally, a quarter of students report being bullied due to their race or religion, while 14 percent believe that it is due to others’ perception of their sexuality. The survey also found bullying was much more prevalent in some school environments than others, with significant variation across the schools that were surveyed. The proportion of bullied students ranged from a low of 12 percent in the schools with the least bullying to a high of 59 percent.
Student Voice, a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded and run by students with the goal of providing all students in the U.S. with a greater voice in their own education, underscored the importance of this data and of generating awareness about bullying.
“These latest YouthTruth findings on bullying are representative of student perspectives we cannot ignore: the majority of bullying still occurs in a school setting rather than online,” said Zak Malamed, Founder and Executive Director of Student Voice. “It is critical that students’ voices are heard and reflected in key education decisions around the country, and this data arms decision makers with just that type of information. Listening to students is one of the most powerful things we can do when it comes to creating a safe environment that is conducive to learning.”
Founded in 2008, YouthTruth works with schools across the country to use student feedback to inform school improvements. Stanford University’s John W. Gardner Center has found student perceptions to be linked to academic outcomes. YouthTruth utilizes a sophisticated technology platform to analyze student feedback against a large library of aggregate data. The team also consults with school leaders to draw insights from the data and inform meaningful improvements on other hot-button issues such as school safety, professional development and student engagement.