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- Definition: Percentage of public school students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional students reporting whether in the past 12 months they have been harassed or bullied at school for any bias-related reason (i.e., on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or a disability).
- Data Source: California Department of Education, California Healthy Kids Survey and California Student Survey (WestEd).
- Footnote: The 2011-2013 time period reflects data from school years 2011-12 and 2012-13. District- and county-level figures are weighted proportions from the 2011-13 California Healthy Kids Survey, and state-level figures are weighted proportions from the 2011-13 California Student Survey. The grade levels included in school district data depend on the grades offered in each district; for example, high school districts do not include 7th grade data. "Non-Traditional" students are those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education; according to Ed-Data, these schools make up about 10% of all public schools in California. N/A indicates that the survey was not administered in that period or that data are not available for that group. LNE (Low Number Event) indicates that for a specific answer there were fewer than 25 respondents. N/R indicates that the sample is too small to be representative.
- Measures of Bullying and Harassment at School on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, measures of harassment and bullying come from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), California Student Survey (CSS), and California School Climate Survey (CSCS). These indicators are made available through a partnership with WestEd, which developed and administers the surveys, and the California Department of Education. Indicators include:
* These data are available by grade level (7th, 9th, 11th, and non-traditional students), gender, race/ethnicity, and level of connectedness to school. School connectedness is a summary measure that includes the following elements: being treated fairly, feeling close to people, feeling happy, feeling part of school, and feeling safe at school.
- Student reports of being bullied or harassed on school property in the past year for any reason or for any bias-related reason (i.e., on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or a disability).*
- Student reports of being bullied or harassed at school based on their disability, gender, race or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or any other non-specified reason, each as separate indicators.*
- Student reports of cyberbullying.*
- School staff reports of the extent to which harassment or bullying among students at their school is a problem.
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Bullying/Harassment for Bias-Related Reason (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Cyberbullying (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Student Bullying/Harassment Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Children's Emotional Health
- Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues, by Age Group
- Depression-Related Feelings, by Grade Level
- Youth Who Reported Needing Help for Emotional or Mental Health Problems
- Receipt of Mental Health Services Among Children Who Need Treatment or Counseling (Regions of 70,000 Residents or More)
- Students Who Are Well-Behaved (Staff Reported)
- Student Depression or Mental Health Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Emphasizes Helping Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems (Staff Reported)
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Disconnected Youth
- Pupil Support Service Personnel
- Juvenile Arrests
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total School Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Connectedness (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Adults at School Believe in Student Success (Staff Reported)
- Caring Adults at School (Staff Reported)
- School Gives Students Opportunities to Make a Difference (Staff Reported)
- School Motivates Students to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Students Who Are Motivated to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Youth Development or Resilience Is Fostered at School (Staff Reported)
- Services for Substance Abuse, Violence, or Other Problems Are Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Perceptions of School Safety for Students (Staff Reported)
- Perceptions of School Safety for Staff (Staff Reported)
- Student Physical Fighting Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Student Weapons Possession Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Attendance and Discipline
- Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
- Alcohol/Drug Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol/Drug Use on School Property in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Binge Drinking in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Drinking and Driving or Riding with a Driver Who Has Been Drinking, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Student Alcohol and Drug Use Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Abuse Prevention Is an Important Goal at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Use Prevention Education Is Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
- Why This Topic Is Important
Bullying is considered a significant public health problem (1, 2). National estimates indicate that more than a quarter of middle and high school students are bullied at school each year (1). This aggressive behavior (which may be physical, verbal, or social — and in person or online) can have long-term harmful effects (1, 2). In addition to the risk of physical injury, research shows that victims of bullying are at risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, physical health problems, low academic achievement, and poor social and school adjustment (1). Any young person can be bullied, but certain groups are more likely to be victimized, such as students with disabilities and LGBT youth (1, 2, 3).
Any involvement in bullying, whether as a victim, a witness, and/or as a bully, is associated with negative outcomes (2, 3). For example, youth who bully others are more likely to do poorly in school, drink alcohol or use cigarettes, and engage in delinquent or suicidal behavior than non-bullies (1, 2, 3). In addition, those who report being both a victim and a bully have the highest risk of suicidal behavior among any group involved in bullying (3). It is important to note that bullying may not cause suicidal behavior, but it is one of several risk factors that appears to increase the chances of such behavior. Even youth who only witness bullying are more likely to report feelings of helplessness and other negative feelings than those who have not witnessed bullying (2, 3). Further, the fear of being bullied or harassed may disrupt a child’s ability to excel in school and life.
For more information on bullying and harassment at school see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. American Educational Research Association. (2013). Prevention of bullying in schools, colleges, and universities: Research report and recommendations. Retrieved from: http://www.aera.net/Publications/Books/PreventionofBullying/tabid/14872/Default.aspx
2. Hertz, M. F., et al. (2013). Bullying and suicide: A public health approach. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S1-S3. Retrieved from:
3. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). The relationship between bullying and suicide: What we know and what it means for schools. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf
- How Children Are Faring
According to 2011-13 data, over one-third (34%) of all public school students surveyed in California reported being bullied or harassed at school in the past year, but figures differed by grade level: 39% of 7th graders, 34% of 9th graders, 28% of 11th graders, and 31% of non-traditional students. Similarly, 37% of staff at California public elementary, middle, high school, K-12, and non-traditional schools reported that bullying was a "moderate" or "severe" problem at their school.
When youth are bullied or harassed at school, the most common specific reason cited is because of their race or national origin, with 19% of 7th graders, 17% of 9th graders, 14% of 11th graders, and 17% of non-traditional students in 2011-13 reporting at least one bullying incident in the past year for this reason. Among African American/Black students, 28% said they had been bullied due to their race at least once in the past year, followed by 25% of Asian American and 24% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students. Other reasons cited include sexual orientation (10% of 7th, 9th, 11th graders and non-traditional students citing one or more incidents at school in the past 12 months), gender (9%), religion (9%), disability (6%), and “any other reason” (21%).
In 2011-13, 22% of 7th, 9th, 11th graders and non-traditional students in California reported being cyberbullied (i.e., other students spread mean rumors or lies about them on the internet). Higher percentages of girls reported cyberbullying than boys.
- Policy Implications
Bullying and harassment at school have come under closer scrutiny by schools and policymakers in recent years (1). Bullying is pervasive in schools nationwide and can have lasting negative consequences on child health and well-being (2). Although any student could be a victim, certain groups are at higher risk of being bullied or harassed, such as LGBT students, youth of color, and students with disabilities (1, 2).
California has enacted laws to address bullying, and state and federal policies provide guidance on effective school discipline strategies (3, 4). In particular, schools are required to use alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, as overuse of these practices has not resulted in safer schools or improved student behavior (2, 3). State and federal policies also encourage schools to teach students social and behavioral skills, and to create positive, supportive school environments (3). Comprehensive strategies that focus on building protective factors (e.g., social skills, caring relationships with adults, etc.) and addressing bullying along with other behaviors, such as substance use and violence, are most likely to succeed (2, 5, 6).
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could prevent and address bullying/harassment at school include:
For more policy ideas and information, see the federal government’s StopBullying.gov and the California Department of Education. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under School Connectedness, Pupil Support Services Personnel, and Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions.
- Incorporating anti-bullying efforts into a comprehensive, well-coordinated school-wide system to support student needs and create a positive school climate, as research shows that a supportive school atmosphere is linked to lower bullying rates and other positive outcomes (2, 7, 8)
- Engaging all school stakeholders -- leaders, teachers, students, families, after-school program staff, community members, and others -- to develop and disseminate a shared anti-bullying mission statement, code of conduct, school policies, and a bullying reporting system (2, 5, 6)
- Providing training for students, staff (e.g., teachers, coaches, counselors, nurses, administrators), parents, and others on how to deal with bullying incidents, focusing in particular on empowering bystanders to prevent bullying (2, 5, 7)
- Following state and federal law, implementing prevention-oriented school discipline policies that are clear, fair, consistent, and promote a positive learning environment; such policies should be based on a tiered system of appropriate responses to misconduct that keep students in school when possible. These policies should include clear, equitable classroom behavior management practices. (3, 7, 9)
- Ensuring that school policies and practices are responsive to the diverse cultural norms of students/families and include a focus on reducing harassment of vulnerable populations, such as youth with disabilities and LGBT youth; this may involve additional staff training, student support, information sharing, and public statements of policy (2, 5, 7)
- Ensuring that anti-bullying efforts focus on a wide array of settings where incidents may occur, e.g., hallways, restrooms, buses, routes to and from school, etc. (2, 6, 7)
- Providing students with opportunities to develop social and behavioral skills (such as problem-solving, relationship skills, self-regulation, and decision-making), along with high expectations and support from adults (2, 5, 7)
Sources for this narrative:
1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). The relationship between bullying and suicide: What we know and what it means for schools. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf
2. American Educational Research Association. (2013). Prevention of bullying in schools, colleges, and universities: Research report and recommendations. Retrieved from: http://www.aera.net/Publications/Books/PreventionofBullying/tabid/14872/Default.aspx
3. Fix School Discipline. (2015). California and federal laws require the use of alternatives to out-of-school discipline. Retrieved from: http://fixschooldiscipline.org/legalframework/
4. Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2015). State cyberbullying laws: A brief review of state cyberbullying laws and policies. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying-and-Cyberbullying-Laws.pdf
5. David-Ferdon C., & Simon T.R. (2014). Preventing youth violence: Opportunities for action. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/pdf/opportunities-for-action.pdf
6. StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Prevent bullying. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/index.html
7. O’Malley, M. D., & Amarillas, A. (2011). What works brief #7: Harassment and bullying. WestEd. Retrieved from: http://californias3.wested.org/tools/7
8. Adelman, H. & Taylor, L. (2015). Transforming student and learning supports: Developing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system. Center for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved from: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/book/book.pdf
9. Morgan, E., et al. (2014). The school discipline consensus report: Strategies from the field to keep students engaged in school and out of the juvenile justice system. The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Retrieved from: http://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/school-discipline-consensus-report/
- Websites with Related Information
- Adolescent Violence Prevention Knowledge Path, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health
- Bullying and Hate-Motivated Behavior Prevention, California Dept. of Education
- California Safe and Supportive Schools, WestEd
- California Safe Schools Coalition
- Cyberbullying Research Center
- Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, American Institutes for Research
- Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports: School, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs
- StopBullying.gov, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
- Violence Prevention: Bullying Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law
- Youth.gov, Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs
- Key Reports and Research
- 2015 National School Climate Survey: LGBTQ Students Experience Pervasive Harassment and Discrimination, But School-Based Supports Can Make a Difference, 2016, GLSEN, Kosciw, J. G., et al.
- Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence, 2013, JAMA Psychiatry, Copeland, W. E., et al.
- Bullying Gets Under Your Skin: Health Effects of Bullying on Children and Youth, 2015, Stopbullying.gov, Vaillancourt, T., et al.
- Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Prevention Institute, Wilkins, N., et al.
- Cyberbullying Fact Sheet: Identification, Prevention, and Response, 2014, Cyberbullying Research Center, Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W.
- Guidebook to the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys: 2016-17 Edition, WestEd
- LGBTQ Youth and School Pushout, 2014, Gay-Straight Alliance Network
- Mislabeled: The Impact of School Bullying and Discrimination on California Muslim Students, 2015, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - California
- Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice, 2016, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- Prevention of Bullying: Research Report and Recommendations, 2013, American Educational Research Association
- Relationship Between Peer Victimization, Cyberbullying, and Suicide in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics, van Geel, M., et al.
- Social Bullying: Correlates, Consequences, and Prevention, 2013, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, Stuart-Cassel, V., et al.
- The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Role of Technology in Youth Harassment Victimization, 2016, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Mitchell, K. J., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- More Data Sources For Bullying and Harassment at School
- California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (CAL-SCHLS) System, California Dept. of Education & WestEd
- Child Trends Databank: Bullying
- Indicators of School Crime and Safety, National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau for Justice Statistics
- National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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