Youth Bullying Today

One in five female American high school students in 2021 reported being cyberbullied, and 17 percent said they had been bullied on school property, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2011-2021 issued on February 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, 16 percent of American teens reported being cyberbullied, and 15 percent bullied at school, the report said; 11 percent of males reported being cyberbullied, and 13 percent said they were bullied while on school grounds.

Teens who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, or another non-heterosexual identify, or had same-sex partners, were twice as likely to experience bullying, according to the YRBS report.

The survey showed that 27 percent of LGBQ+ teens, and 37 percent of teens who have same-sex partners, reported being cyberbullied, and 23 percent and 32 percent, respectively, reported being bullied on school property.

The national data showed that 21 percent of American Indian teens, 19 percent of white teens, 13 percent of Hispanic teens, 13 percent of Asian teens, and 10 percent of Black teens reported being cyberbullied; and 18 percent, 18 percent, 12 percent, 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively, reported bullying at school.

The survey indicated that rates of bullying among American high school students held steady and in some measures declined slightly over the past decade.

Students reporting cyberbullying declined from 16.2 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2021. The percentage of students saying they were bullied at school declined from 20.1 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2021.

No 2011 data was available for LGBQ+ students. However, the percentage of LGBQ+ teens reporting cyberbullying increased slightly from 26.6 percent in 2019 to 27 percent in 2021. Those experiencing bullying on school grounds declined from 32 percent to 23 percent.

Noting that overall experiences of bullying declined in the last decade, the report said that it was still concerning that the percentage of students who missed school because of safety concerns and sexual violence increased.

In Tompkins County, youth bullying appears more prevalent than the national average, according to the Community-Level Youth Development Evaluation (CLYDE) survey of students in grades 7-12 in 2021. According to the survey, released in June 2022, 20.8 percent of the Tompkins students reported being cyberbullied, and 21.2 reported being bullied at school.

READ: Bullying Prevention in Tompkins County

The CLYDE survey numbers may skew higher in part because, unlike the national YRBS survey, the Tompkins data includes 7th and 8th graders who register bullying experiences anywhere from five to 15 percentage points higher than high schoolers.

Broken down by gender and race in the CLYDE survey, being a victim of cyberbullying was reported by 33 percent of all other gender identities, 30.1 percent of all American Indians, 27.5 percent of Black girls, 23.9 percent of all Black youth, 22 percent of all girls, 20.7 percent of Hispanic youth, 17.5 percent of all Asian youth, and 17.2 percent of all males.

Being a victim of bullying at school was reported by 33.5 percent of all other gender identities, 26.7 percent of Black girls, 25.7 percent of all American Indian youth, 21.8 percent of all Black youth, 21.3 percent of all girls, 19.8 percent of all Hispanic youth, 18.2 percent of all males, and 14.1 percent of all Asian youth.

The CDC defines youth bullying as “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.” The CDC says that bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.

According to, a website operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the relationship between bullying and suicide is complex. The website says that 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. But most young people who die by suicide have multiple risk factors, the website says.

Note about transgender data: The CDC report said that because the survey did did not include a question on gender identity, the report did not highlight data specifically on students who identify as transgender. That’s why the report references “LGBQ+” omitting the letter T that is commonly used in the acronym LGBTQ+, the report explained. “However, strategies to improve adolescent health should be inclusive of all students who identify as LGBTQ+, so the full acronym is used when highlighting actions,” the report said. It added that future YRBS surveys will include a question on gender identity.

Concerned about bullying? To contact or join the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force, email The Sophie Fund at: