Thirty percent of U.S. students in grades six through 10 are involved in moderate or frequent bullying as bullies, victims, or both according to the first nationally representative survey on the frequency of such behavior among American children.
In the survey of more than 15,000 students, 9 percent reported that they bullied other children once a week or more often; another 11 percent said they sometimes bullied others. Eight percent reported that they were bullied at least once a week; another 9 percent said they were sometimes bullied.
Bullying is increasingly viewed as a key contributor to youth violence, including homicide and suicide. Case studies of the shootings at Columbine High School and other U.S. schools suggest that bullying was a factor in many of the incidents.
"Most kids who are bullied, they get angry about it, they get sad about it, they get depressed," said James Garbarino of Cornell University. "Very few of them take it to the point where they kill themselves or kill others, but the ones who do very often cite that as a very salient thing."
Based on the results, the authors estimated that nationally, 1.6 million children are bullied once a week or more often, and that 1.7 million are bullying others that frequently.
"That's certainly a public health problem," Garbarino said.
The survey found that bullies had higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use. Victims reported troubled relationships with classmates and a high degree of loneliness.