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What Bullying Looks Like in Today’s Classrooms: 3 New Charts That Explain Changes in School Violence

July 31, 2017

Talking Points

America’s middle schools are most likely to experience higher rates of bullying and violence

These charts explain the prevalence of bullying and violence in America’s classrooms

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Reports of bullying and violence in America’s public schools are on the decline, according to a report published Thursday by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.

The figures come from the department’s latest report on crime, violence, discipline, and safety in America’s public schools, which outlines data from a national survey of 3,553 schools during the 2015–16 academic year. The department first conducted the survey in the 1999–2000 school year; the most recent survey was administered in 2009–10.

Here are three charts that help explain the state of bullying and violence in American classrooms:

1. Reports of bullying and violence have declined since 2009–10

Of the public schools that participated in the surveys, 11.9 percent reported a bullying incident at school daily or at least once a week in 2015–16, a decline from 23.1 percent in 2009–10. The department’s two surveys showed a similar decline in violent incidents, from 25 per 1,000 students in 2009–10 to 17.5 in 2015-16.

 
 
2. Bullying and violence are most prevalent in middle schools

Let’s face it: We’d all like to forget our middle school years and all that acne, catty drama, and bullying. That last one, at least, is backed by data. According to the latest NCES figures, reports of bullying and violence in middle school far exceed those in elementary and high schools. Across all public schools, 11.9 percent reported bullying issues daily or at least once a week. Among middle schools, 21.8 percent reported similar bullying rates, while high schools came in second, at 14.7 percent.

 
 
3. Cyberbullying, which has become more prevalent across the country, appears most common in large schools

Of schools with more than 1,000 students, 27 percent reported cyberbullying daily or at least once a week. In schools that enroll fewer than 300 students, however, 8 percent reported daily or weekly incidents.

Although 12 percent of public schools reported cyberbullying incidents daily or at least once a week, the issue is most prevalent among middle and high schools. In the 2009–10 school year — the last time the Education Department administered the survey — 7.9 percent of schools reported cyberbullying daily or at least weekly. Schools in cities, suburbs, towns, and rural communities experienced cyberbullying at similar rates.