SAN FRANCISCO – A quarter of students report being bullied, according to data released today by the San Francisco-based nonprofit YouthTruth Student Survey. While this number is consistent with previous research, analysis of the survey findings also provides insight into how experiences vary slightly across student demographics such as gender identity.
Drawing on responses from over 180,000 students across the country in grades five through 12, the findings show that students who identify in a different way than “male” or “female” are slightly more likely to be bullied than their male or female peers. Twenty two percent of male students and 30 percent of female students reported being bullied, compared to 44 percent of students who identify in another way.
The survey also found that most bullying is happening in person. Across all demographics, of students who were bullied, 73 percent of students reported being verbally harassed. Female students and students who identify as other than male or female are slightly more likely to be bullied socially, with 61 percent of female students and 62 percent of students who identify in another way reporting social harassment, compared to just 45 percent of male students.
“Bullying is an issue that can often be difficult for students to talk about, which heightens the importance of anonymous, candid student feedback,” said Jen Wilka, YouthTruth’s executive director. “These findings illustrate that bullying is prevalent in the lives of many students, and that some students may be experiencing bullying differently than their peers. All students have the right to feel safe at school. We hope that this data helps to spark conversations and inform anti-bullying efforts.”
The survey found that almost half of all bullied students — 44 percent — cite their appearance as the reason they were bullied. Furthermore, 17 percent of students report being bullied because of their race or skin color, and 15 percent of students report being bullied due to their perceived sexual orientation. Male students and students who identify as other than male or female were also slightly more likely to report being bullied for their perceived sexual orientation, with 20 percent of male and 45 percent of students who identify in another way being bullied for that reason, compared to just 9 percent of female students.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending online and offline bullying in memory of Tyler Clementi, underscored the importance of this data and generating awareness about bullying.
“These latest YouthTruth findings on bullying are crucial to understanding bullying as a public health epidemic that touches children of every school at every grade level. It has been shown that bullying can lead to a host of negative behaviors, from poor grades to drug abuse and depression,” said Joe Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “However, with programs like YouthTruth and Tyler Clementi Foundation’s Day1 campaign, we can better understand the issues students face and empower them to stand up for themselves and others.”
YouthTruth partners with districts and CMOs across the country to use student, family, and school staff feedback on the themes that matter most to creating healthy climate and culture. Utilizing sophisticated technology to analyze perception feedback against a large library of aggregate data, YouthTruth also offers professional development and coaching to on how to use student and stakeholder feedback to drive change.