A Closer Look at Youth Bullying Statistics

I’m not sure whether the timing is significant, but this week the New York City Department of Health came out with a report and a raft of new statistics around youth bullying. While being a bit dated (the study uses data from 2011), the results, which examine both real world bullying and cyberbullying, offer some insight as to what is going on both in the school yard and online. The headline number is that nearly one in five NYC students are victims of some form of bullying.

A couple of highlights that were a surprise to us:

  1. NYC students are less likely to be bullied (18%) vs. students nationwide (27%)
  2. Girls were more likely to be cyberbullied (13%) vs. boys (9%)

Regarding #1 above, the results were extracted from two different studies, and the gap may be explained by the difference between the two studies. Regarding #2, we don’t want to state across the board that girls’ interactions are more mean-spirited than boys’, but the data tell us that there is something about the online medium that has girls acting more adversarial than boys, or at least reporting it differently.

A couple of highlights that are not so surprising:

  • LGBT students are more likely to be bullied (29%) than heterosexual students (17%)
  • Bullying victims are more than twice as likely (13%) to use prescription pain medication than non-bullied students (5%)
  • Bullying victims are more likely to engage in tobacco, marijuana and alcohol use
  • Bullying victims are more than twice and likely to attempt suicide (15% vs. 6%) and self harm (32% vs. 13%) than non-victims

The last one is a doozy. Parents need to be on guard whether their kids are a victim of bullying or doing the bullying themselves. Even “good” kids can be sucked into the bullying culture in an effort to be cool or popular.


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