Special Report

States With the Biggest Bullying Problem

The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort.” Such behaviors can take the form of physical contact, verbal attacks, or other more subtle actions. Sadly, those being bullied often have no idea what they did to spark the assaults and have difficulty fighting the aggressor. See the 20 warning signs your child may be being bullied at school.

According to StopBullying.gov, a website on bullying prevention managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, bullying can have a profound and lasting impact on a child targeted with aggressive behavior by a friend or classmate. Depression and anxiety, physical ailments, and poor academic achievement often plague the bullied youngster. Many students are forced to drop out of school to escape their tormentor.

In today’s virtually connected society, bullying doesn’t have to happen face to face. Cyberbullying has become an increasing psychosocial problem facing young people. That’s why the government and schools have prioritized bullying prevention programs to keep school children safe and mentally healthy.

To assess the scope of bullying among young people, the government developed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey in 1990 to monitor health behaviors contributing markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States.

To determine the states where bullying is the biggest problem, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of high school students who were bullied on school property in the past year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey, for the 41 states with available data.

Click here to see the states where bullying is the biggest problem

Data on the share of students who were electronically bullied (including bullied through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media); the share of students who reported feeling sad or hopeless every day for two weeks or more in a row and stopped doing some usual activities; and the share of students who seriously considered attempting suiсide also came from the high school YRBSS. All data is ranked by the 41 states.

Although this is a state-by-state list, bullying is a national problem. Nearly 20% of all high school students nationwide reported being bullied on school grounds. Another 15.7% said the behavior happened online. As many as 36.7% of high schoolers reported feelings of hopeless and sad, and nearly 19% contemplated suiсide. (These are the best public high schools in every state.)

Looking at individual states, Alaskan children suffer the most bullying, with 25.5% reporting being bullied on school property in the past year. More than 19% report online buying, the second highest percentage on the list. Alarmingly, a quarter — 25.3% — say they’ve considered suiсide, the second highest percentage of the states considered.

Even the state rated as having less of a bullying problem reported distressingly high incidences of harmful behaviors. More than 14% reported being bullied at school, with 12% saying they were the victims of online bullying. Roughly 40% said they felt sad and hopeless, the eighth highest percentage, and 18.9% said they contemplated suiсide. Perhaps one day the percentages will hit zero.