the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC, 2015):
■ 20 percent of high school students
reported being bullied on school property
in the 12 months preceding the survey.
■ An estimated 15 percent of high school
students reported that they were bullied
electronically in the 12 months before
■ Lesbian, gay and bisexual students
are significantly more likely than their
heterosexual peers to report being bullied
at school or online (at school, 34 percent
versus 19 percent; online, 28 percent versus 14 percent).
What does psychologists’ research
say about bullying?
Psychologists have found that:
■ Bullying undermines psychosocial
functioning among children and youth
who are victimized, causing lowered
self-esteem, higher rates of depression,
anxiety, feelings of loneliness, suicidal
ideation and higher rates of school
■ Children and youth who bully are more
likely than their peers to hold beliefs that
support violence and are more likely to
influence their peers to bully others.
■ There is no single cause of bullying.
Individual, familial, peer, school and
community factors may place a child or
youth at risk for bullying his or her peers.
■ Perpetrating bullying is related to other
problem behaviors, including vandalism,
fighting, drinking alcohol, smoking, truancy, dropping out of school and carrying
(For more information on these findings, go to www.apa.org/about/policy/
What is APA doing?
In 2004, APA approved a resolution
calling for the association to integrate
bullying prevention into its violence
prevention activities, encourage fund-
ing of research on bullying behavior and
“Bullying victimization significantly
predicted students’ current levels of
depression and anxiety—over and above
other childhood victimization experi-
ences,” says study lead author Dorothy
Espelage, PhD, a professor of psychology
at the University of Florida.
Those pervasive mental health
effects—and the evidence that bullying
hurts the teaching and learning environment and increases mental health
and behavior problems—are among the
reasons APA has supported efforts aimed
at preventing this behavior.
How is bullying defined?
Bullying is characterized as aggressive
behavior that is intended to cause dis-
tress or harm, involves an imbalance of
power or strength between the aggressor
and the victim, and commonly occurs
repeatedly over time. Bullying takes
many forms, including physical bullying;
teasing or name-calling; social exclusion;
peer sexual harassment; bullying about
race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual
orientation and gender identity; and
How pervasive is it?
Bullying is widespread in the United
States. According to the latest data from G E O
IS A TOP APA PRIORITY
Psychologists’ research pinpoints the negative effects of
bullying, as well as what can help to prevent them
Youth with disabilities,
as well as those who
are lesbian, gay or
transgender, are at
higher risk of bullying.