Can Employees Use Social Media to Criticize Employers?
How to Combat Bullying Behavior Part II

How to Combat Bullying Behavior Part I

Student Depression and Even Suicide May Hang in the Balance

I have previously blogged about various kinds of bullying including in-person, on social media, and in the workplace. Bullying can have significant negative effects on those bullied such as causing depression and even suicide. This is an important topic in society today so I’m writing a two-part blog. Today’s blog deals with the frequency and types of bullying including cyberbullying. Next Tuesdays’ blog will deal with bullying against various protective groups.

Here are some bullying statistics.

Rates of Incidence

  • One out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 
  • A higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%), whereas a higher percentage of female than of male students reported being the subjects of rumors (18% vs. 9%) and being excluded from activities on purpose (7% vs. 4%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • 41% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they think the bullying would happen again. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 13% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • A slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (24% vs. 17%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • Bullied students reported that bullying occurred in the following places: the hallway or stairwell at school (43%), inside the classroom (42%), in the cafeteria (27%), outside on school grounds (22%), online or by text (15%), in the bathroom or locker room (12%), and on the school bus (8%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • 46% of bullied students report notifying an adult at school about the incident. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. (McCallion & Feder, 2013
  • The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • The federal government began collecting data on school bullying in 2005, when the prevalence of bullying was around 28 percent. (S. Department of Education, 2015 )
  • Rates of bullying vary across studies (from 9% to 98%). A meta-analysis of 80 studies analyzing bullying involvement rates (for both bullying others and being bullied) for 12-18 year old students reported a mean prevalence rate of 35% for traditional bullying involvement and 15% for cyberbullying involvement. (Modecki, Minchin, Harbaugh, Guerra, & Runions, 2014 )
  • One in five (20.9%) tweens (9 to 12 years old) has been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or seen cyberbullying. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020
  • 8% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020
  • 13% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) reported experiencing bullying at school and online, while only 1% reported being bullied solely online. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)

Effects of Bullying

  • Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. (Centers for Disease Control, 2019
  • Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied. (Centers for Disease Control, 2019
  • Bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches. (Gini & Pozzoli, 2013 )
  • Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment. (Perren, Ettakal, & Ladd, 2013 )
  • Tweens who were cyberbullied shared that it negatively impacted their feelings about themselves (69.1%), their friendships (31.9%), their physical health (13.1%), and their schoolwork (6.5%). (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020). Bullying


  • Among students ages 12 – 18 who reported being bullied at school, 15% were bullied online or by text (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
  • Reports of cyberbullying are highest among middle school students, followed by high school students, and then primary school students (Centers for Disease Control, 2019
  • The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have more than doubled (18% to 37%) from 2007-2019 (Patchin & Hinduia, 2019 )
  • When students were asked about the specific types of cyberbullying they had experienced, mean and hurtful comments (25%) and rumors spread online (22%) were the most commonly-cited (Patchin et al., 2019 )
  • The type of cyberbullying tends to differ by gender. Girls were more likely to say someone spread rumors about them online while boys were more likely to say that someone threatened to hurt them online (Patchin et al., 2019 )
  • Those who are cyberbullied are also likely to be bullied offline (Hamm, Newton, & Chisholm, 2015 )

Can anything be done to stem the tide of rising bullying in schools? I believe so and it starts with teaching civility to adolescents and adults.

Teaching About Civility

Civility must start in the home. If youngsters are taught civility in schools and then go home and observes the behavior of their parents doing things that are in their self-interests and without due consideration of others, then the civility lesson will not be learned. If kids go to school and are taunted or bullied, they will start to question why they should be civil to those students.

If a youngster goes on-line and sees examples of bullying -- even ones that glorify it on social media or You Tube -- then the lesson that is learned is others do not play by the same rules so why should I? If a kid goes to the movies and sees gratuitous acts of unkindness and selfish behavior (on the Internet as well), that will have a much more powerful influence than nine weeks of instruction.

If the schools, want to make a difference, they must start with the parents, not the kids. Starting with the kids is like putting the cart before the horse. Parents are not innately attuned to issues of ethics and civility. Many are of the “me” generation and pursue non-ethical values such as money, wealth, and fame rather than leading a life of excellence, and they hardly serve as role models for their kids.

Parents need to be educated about the damages that uncivil behavior, such as bullying and cyber-bullying, can have. It is a crucial element of civility. Schools, with the support of school districts, should develop a program of “mandatory” orientation for parents and they should learn the rules of the school regarding basic respect for teachers, compassion towards others, kindness towards all, and developing characteristic traits of ethical behavior. They should be asked to discuss these issues in the home with their kids. Then, teaching kids about empathy might make a difference.

Bullying Statistics provided by - National Bullying Prevention Center (

Steve has written a book on "Happiness and Meaning" and how it ties to "Ethical Behavior." It provides resources that parents can use to teach their kids about bullying and cyberbullying.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on April 19, 2022. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: Follow him on Facebook at: and on Twitter at: