Bullying is a public health problem.

Bullying has long been tolerated by many people as a rite of passage among children and teens. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood. It is a serious public health problem. Bullying harms the child who is bullied, the child who is the bully, and the bystanders.

There are four main types of bullying:

  • Physical bullying involves the use of physical force (such as shoving, hitting, spitting, pushing, and tripping).

  • Verbal bullying involves words or writing that cause harm (such as taunting, name calling, offensive notes or hand gestures, verbal threats).

  • Relational bullying is behavior designed to harm the reputation and relationships of the targeted youth (such as social isolation, rumor-spreading, posting mean comments or pictures online).

  • Damage to property is theft or damaging of the target youth’s property by the bully in order to cause harm.

Cyberbullying is not a separate type of bullying, but a way in which some types of bullying can happen. For example, verbal bullying and relational bullying can happen online.

Bullying can happen as early as preschool, but bullying is most likely to happen during middle school. It can happen in many different settings – in classrooms, in school gyms and cafeterias, on school buses, and online.

Bullying affects a large number of children and youth.

School-based bullying probably affects between 18 and 31 percent of children and youth, and cyberbullying probably affects about 7 to 15 percent of youth. Some young people are more likely to be bullied: youth with disabilities, obese youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.

The harm caused by bullying can last a long time.

Bullying can have long-lasting effects for youth who are bullied, for youth who bully others, and for youth who witness bullying. These consequences include poor school performance, anxiety, depression, and future delinquent and aggressive behavior. The harmful results of being bullied can last into adulthood.

Bullying can have long-lasting consequences for those who are bullied:

  • Children and youth who have been bullied can experience disturbances such as sleeping problems, headaches, stomachaches, and bedwetting
  • Psychological problems are also common after being bullied, and can include depression, anxiety, and especially for girls, self-harming behavior. Anger, aggression, use of alcohol, and conduct problems are common, especially for boys.
  • Children and youth who have been bullied can suffer academic problems such as poor grades or test scores.

The harmful consequences of being bullied can last into adulthood.

Children and youth who both bully others and are bullied themselves are at even greater risk of experiencing harm as a result.

Individuals who are bullied or who bully others — or both — are much more likely to consider or attempt suicide, compared to children who are not involved in bullying.

Bullying CAN Be Prevented.

Reducing the presence and impact of bullying in the lives of youth will require many groups working together: families and schools, communities, health care workers, the media and social media, and federal and state governments and agencies.