Nearly one in five American high school students experiences bullying while at school. A higher percentage of girls are bullied than boys. One in three lesbian, gay, or bisexual students is bullied. Victims of bullying may suffer serious and long-lasting physical, psychological, and academic effects. Those who bully also need help: they are more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol and drugs, and engage in criminal activity.
Representatives from more than two dozen local government agencies, community organizations, and local schools have formed the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force to explore the prevalence of youth bullying and strategies to combat it.
On the occasion of a Community Forum sponsored by the Task Force on June 15, The Sophie Fund presents the Brief Guide to Bullying Prevention. The guide highlights useful facts and figures, helpful resources on bullying prevention, and information about reporting acts of bullying, harassment, or discrimination under New York’s Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).
Prevalence of Youth Bullying
- 19.0% of high school students were bullied at school in 2016-17.
- 14.9% of high school students experienced electronic bullying.
- More female students (22.3%) were bullied compared to male students (15.6%).
- More female students (19.7%) were electronically bullied compared to male students (9.9%).
- More lesbian, gay, or bisexual students (33.0%) were bullied at school than heterosexual students (17.1%) or students not sure of their sexual identity (24.3%).
- 21.7% of New York high school students were bullied at school (higher than national average of 19.0%) in 2016-17.
- More New York female students (24.6%) were bullied compared to male students (18.7%).
- Nearly twice as many New York gay, lesbian, or bisexual students (34.6%) were bullied compared to heterosexual students (19.4%).
- Tompkins County school districts reported 109 incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying (excluding cyberbullying), and 20 incidents of cyberbullying, in the 2017-2018 school year under the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).
- The 2018 Communities that Care Youth Survey of schools in Tompkins County and Seneca County found that more than a third of high school students reported feeling depressed on most days.
Basics of Youth Bullying
Definition: “Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.” Types include physical, verbal, and relational. Cyberbullying involves e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, chat rooms, gaming systems, tweeting, or social media.
Potential Psychological Effects: Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, self- harming behavior (especially for girls), alcohol and drug use and dependence, aggression, involvement in violence or crime (especially for boys), emotional distress, hostility, and delinquency.
Potential Physical Effects: Immediate physical injury, sleep disorders, stomach aches, headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness, bedwetting, chronic pain, somatization (a syndrome of distressful, physical symptoms that cannot be explained by a medical cause), stress-related impact on the immune system and hormones, and impact on brain activity and functioning.
Potential Academic Effects: Impact on grades and standardized test scores starting as early as kindergarten and continuing through high school.
Bullying and Suicide: Persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior. Most young people who die by suicide have multiple risk factors.
Click here to read the Brief Guide to Youth Bullying Prevention, or click here to download a PDF.