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:

Helping Youth Navigate Their Digital World

Worried that your kids are addicted to their screens and distracted from real life? Join the webinar: “Helping Youth Navigate Their Digital World.”

Experts Devorah Heitner and Jonathan Singer will help parents hit the reset button on their family’s digital life to create a healthy balanced relationship with screen time.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday February 15 from 8-9:30 p.m. The cost to register is $18.

Click Here to Register

Heitner is the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. She teaches parents the insight they need to feel empowered to show their children smart technology use.

Singer has extensively researched teenagers and the effect technology has on them, as well as the role of technology in the social work setting, and shares his evidence-based findings for best practices in parenting.

The webinar is hosted by The Wellness Institute, a New York-based organization committed to supporting youth resilience by developing and disseminating behavioral health and suicide prevention education and resources.

It’s United in Kindness Month!

The Tompkins County Legislature has proclaimed October to be “United in Kindness Month” aligned with National Bullying Prevention Month.

Legislature Chair Shawna Black issued the proclamation on October 6 after the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force coordinated a series of nine events with kindness themes for the month. Task Force Steering Committee Member Brandi Remington, Youth Development Coordinator at TST BOCES, was on hand to receive the proclamation.

The proclamation reads as follows:

WHEREAS, bullying has been identified as a prevalent and serious problem affecting today’s youth, and
WHEREAS, 19 percent of high school students nationally, and 21.7 percent of New York State high school students are bullied at school, and
WHEREAS, types of youth bullying include physical, verbal, and relational bullying, as well as cyberbullying that involves threatening or harassing electronic communications, and
WHEREAS, bullying has psychological, physical, and academic effects, and adversely affects youth who are bullied as well as those who engage in bullying, and
WHEREAS, more than two dozen government agencies, community organizations, parents, and representatives from the County’s six school districts formed the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force in March 2019, and
WHEREAS, the Task Force’s mission is to facilitate comprehensive cooperation across the community in developing and promoting appropriate bullying prevention and response strategies in Tompkins County, and
WHEREAS, every member of the Tompkins County community, government agencies, community organizations, school administrators, teachers, athletic coaches, parents, and students can play a part in creating a bully-free environment in our schools, athletics fields, public spaces, and online websites,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Shawna Black, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, do hereby proclaim the month of October 2022, as

Tompkins Parents: Get Smarter about Kids and Social Media

Our kids are spending more and more time on social media, according to a recent survey. Are you a parent who feels confused and even despairing about raising children in the Digital Age?

The survey by Common Sense Media found that teens are spending an average of one hour 27 minutes a day on social media apps (current top favorites are TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram). That’s a 25 percent jump between 2019 and 2021.

A worrying trend is the growing use of social media by kids aged 8 to 12. Eighteen percent of tweens are on social media every day, and overall tween use almost doubled to 18 minutes a day on average during the height of the pandemic.

Another survey in 2020 by the Lurie Blog found that 58 percent of parents believe social media has a net negative effect on their children. The concerns fall into two categories: what it takes away (sleep, schoolwork) and exposure (cyberbullying, sexual content).

To learn more about the pitfalls—and benefits—of social media, and how to handle the sometimes sticky issues with your children, sign up for a webinar designed for Tompkins County families on Wednesday October 19 between 12 Noon and 1:30 p.m.

Social media expert Chris Vollum  will present “Digital Intelligence and Well-Being for Parents,” a free webinar via Zoom sponsored by Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca and The Sophie Fund.

Click Here to Register (It’s free!)

Vollum’s webinar seeks to give parents clarity, confidence, joy and new skills on how to support and discuss both the benefits and risks of social apps and platforms with their children.

“Social media and social apps dominate student life,” Vollum says. “In a post-pandemic world, they are relied upon even more to build relationships, establish connections and stay in the loop.”

He encourages parents to become more proficient with the social apps and platforms that their kids are using to define their lives. His presentation equips parents and caregivers with the skills to launch important conversations with their kids on a level that builds trust, collaboration, transparency—and establishes mutual expectations.

The webinar presents a visual step-by-step walkthrough of the features, functionality, and privacy settings of Snapchat, TikTok, Discord, and Instagram.

“With a working understanding of the world of social media and what drives its global popularity, fear and uncertainty that participants might have is extinguished and replaced with confidence, knowledge and inspiration,” Vollum says.

The webinar is part of the United in Kindness series in Tompkins County during the month of October.

A Month for Kindness

Kindness is Coming to Tompkins County in October! United in Kindness is a diverse series of events organized by the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force and aligned with National Bullying Prevention Month.

The events range from a student contest promoting kindness, a free showing of the film Wonder at Cinemapolis, and Stories in the Park for under-6s, to expert presentations on keeping kids safe on social media and dealing with domestic violence experiences.

The Student Kindness and Creativity Contest, sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County, invites local K-12 students to enter written word, visual art, or video submissions with a deadline of October 10.

The contest will be judged by United Way’s Youth and Philanthropy Program students. Prizes will be awarded and all entries will be featured at a Gallery Event at United Way’s headquarters at 313 N Aurora Street on October 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contest information available at:

“United Way is happy to support this year’s contest and the United In Kindness series because of the connection to youth and mental health, two key areas supported by our organization,” said Gregg Houck, United Way’s Director of Community Impact.

“In a time of so much division, having the opportunity to promote unity in our shared humanity and the importance of being kind to one another through this contest and gallery event is so meaningful. United Way looks forward to sharing these student creations with the community.”

The series was organized by the Bullying Prevention Task Force’s Brandi Remington, Youth Development Coordinator at TST BOCES.

“This series brings kindness back to the forefront as our community continues to heal from the aftermath of COVID-19,” said Remington. “National Bullying Prevention Month aims to bring awareness to the very serious issue of bullying in our schools and community. We recognize the problem, just as we recognize that one of the solutions is to celebrate empathy, inclusion, and connectedness. We are excited to bring attention to all of the great work being done in Tompkins County to build a community united in kindness.”

Student Kindness and Creativity Contest 9/19 through 10/10

Sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County

Tompkins County K-12 students can enter their written word, visual art, or video submissions until 10/10. All entries will be featured at a

Gallery Event @ United Way 313 N Aurora Street on 10/28 4-7 pm.

We’ve Got Your Back 10/1 @ 12-3 p.m.

Mental Health Association Peer Outreach Center @ Center Ithaca

Live music, activities, finger foods, speakers and more! Learn how we can support one another by stepping in and calling out bullying behaviors.

Free Hugs @ Apple Harvest Festival 10/1 @ 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In and Around the Ithaca Commons

Free Hugs Ithaca and Be Kind Ithaca team up to give away t-shirts and iconic Be Kind hearts—and actual hugs—to dozens of lucky Apple Fest attendees.

Mothering Through Domestic Violence 10/5 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at:

Join the Coalition for Families and Lyn Staack from the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County for a community presentation. Understand the challenges faced by people who grew up in homes where there was domestic violence and how it may impact their adult relationships and parenting.

Screening of Wonder 10/11 @ 7-9 p.m.

@ Cinemapolis—Free Admission sponsored by Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca and The Sophie Fund

Watch an uplifting film for all ages about empathy and acceptance telling the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade to attend mainstream elementary school for the first time.

7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest 10/15 @ 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Bernie Milton Pavilion, submissions from 10–11:30 am; Info on how to enter at:

Stories in the Park 10/18 & 10/22 @ 11:30 a.m.–12 Noon

Dewitt Park, or Tompkins County Public Library if raining  

Children 6 and under and their families will be delighted by a selection of stories based on the themes of kindness, inclusivity, and diversity.

Digital Intelligence and Well-Being for Parents 10/19 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at:

Join a symposium for parents about online safety for their children presented by social media expert Chris Vollum.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters Match Event 10/21 @ 4-7 p.m.

Event open to Big Brothers, Big Sisters participants only

Participants will carve pumpkins and decorate cookies while they share stories about people in their life who demonstrate and embody kindness. To learn more about how you can be a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, go to:

For more details about United in Kindness events, go to: