The outlook on bullying has not improved. In fact, the statistics on bullying in schools are showing a deepening of the trend toward more bullying instead of less. This can be attributed largely to the ever-growing use of social media on the Internet, but media-based cyber bullying is not the only area where the problem continues to grow.
The most serious potential outcome from continued bullying is the prospect of victim suicide. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is all the more striking since the prevalence of suicide among adolescents is the only demographic showing a substantial, continuing growth in the suicide rate.
Furthermore, 4,700 youths die by suicide annually, and one in six high school students actively consider taking their own lives. It cannot be overly stressed that the increasing prevalence of bullying correlates positively with the increasing suicide rate among our country’s youth.
What may be easily overlooked is the fact that the most physical or violent forms of bullying are not necessarily those most productive of student suicides. The least physical form, cyber bullying, is the fastest growing and perhaps the most seriously threatening form resulting in suicides. A personal, physical threat is decidedly ugly, but a threat to one’s social well-being in the context of a school-age peer group demographic may be even more threatening.
Suicide may be the most serious of the statistics on bullying in schools, but is certainly not the only concern. Bullying can take many forms, and the effects of bullying can be pervasive for years after the fact. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reports that bullying victims can display a broad range of responses over an extended period of time. These responses may include low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness, isolation, and a difficulty trusting others. But they may also include difficulty controlling anger and expression of overt aggression.
NCES reports that in 2007, daily bullying was not uncommon, and almost a third of all students age 12-18 reported being bullied at school at some point. This is one of the few statistics that appears relatively stable, as indicated by a follow-up study conducted by NCES for the 2011 school year. The later study shows that a very similar 28 percent of the same age group reported being bullied at some point during the year.
This report shows the breakdown of Statistics on Bullying in Schools to be as follows:
- 18 percent: Made fun of, insulted, or called names.
- 18 percent: Made the subject of rumors.
- 8 percent: Pushed or shoved, tripped or spit on. Twenty-one percent of those said this resulted in an injury.
- 6 percent: Excluded from activities.
- 5 percent: Threatened with direct harm.
- 3 percent: Coerced to do things they did not want to do.
- 3 percent: Had property intentionally destroyed.
- 2 percent: Subjected to email harassment.
The above statistics pertained only to bullying that was received while actually at school. These and other categories extended beyond the school grounds, as well. But limiting focus to just bullying on school-related environments, the NCES studies suggest the following on Statistics on Bullying in Schools:
- The most common form of bullying is emotional bullying, with physical bullying (push, shove, trip, or spit upon) ranking second.
- There is a greater amount of bullying in grades 6, 7, and 8 (middle school) than senior high school.
- In middle school, cyberbullying is the least prevalent type, becoming greater in high school.
- Bullying occurs most often inside the school, rather than outside or on the bus, except for middle school students, where bullying was most prevalent on the bus.
- Younger students are the most likely to be physically injured by bullying.
There is little doubt that bullying is a continuing problem for our culture. But the most troubling concern may be that we as a society are focusing a greater and greater emphasis on curbing the trend, and it continues to grow never the less. This problem isn’t going away no matter what we do. It is a major concern, and one we need to focus additional funding and awareness upon if we are to gain any significant ground on controlling its pervasive influence on our children, and the future of our society.