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Any student can be the target of bullying.

One out of 5 students report being a victim of


bullying at some point (National Educational Statistics, 2016). Students who are
bullied have increased school avoidance, decreases in grades, and
difficulties with learning. These students often suffer from sleep difficulties,
headaches and stomachaches, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Students who are frequently bullied are two times more likely to have suicidal ideation
or attempts (Gini & Espelage, 2014). Students who are bullies also have long-term issues
such as academic problems, substance use, behavioral issues, and problems with the
law. They are less likely to obtain meaningful employment and often struggle with
independence and relationships as adults.

There are many reasons why a student might be the victim of bullying. The research on
race, ethnicity, and national origin are still not clear, but there are some studies that
report this to be a reason for bullying. For instance, Davis & Nixon, 2010, reported that
about 16% of students reported this as a reason for bullying. Common reasons for
bullying include looks and body shape. In 2010, Davis & Nixon reported that about 55%
students reported looks as the primary reason for bullying and about 37% reported body
shape as the primary reason. About 1/3 of overweight girls and ¼ of overweight boys
reported being teased or bullied about their weight (Puhl, Luedick, & Heuer, 2011).

The students who are at highest risk for being targets are LGBTQ students and students
with disabilities. In a National School Climate Survey in 2013, about 74% of students
reported being verbally bullied and about 36% reported being physically bullied due to
their sexual orientation. More than half of the LGBTQ students in this study reported
that they felt unsafe at school and about 30% of them missed at least 1 day of school in
the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school. Almost half of the
students reported that they were targets of cyberbullying.

A student with a developmental disability is 2-3 times more likely to be a


target of bullying than their peers (Marshall, Kendall, Banks, & Gover, 2009).
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act state that bullying based on disability can be considered harassment and
is illegal (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

Some students with disabilities are more commonly targeted including those with
Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Some warning indicators that a student is being bullied include increased school
absences, decrease in academic performance, increased anxiety, sleep or eating issues,
and increased social isolation.

Some indicators that a student is being a bully include a decreased sensitivity to others
such as laughing when someone gets hurt or fails at something, a strong desire for
popularity, secretiveness, and increased behavioral challenges.
Not all bullying occurs at school but the incidents can certainly have a negative impact
on students’ academic and social interactions at school. For instance, cyberbullying
can seriously affect the interactions of students at school, even though it
typically happens outside of school time. Cyberbullying is the harassment or
threatening of another person through online communication such as social media,
texting, or video. Bullying can take place through rumors, comments, photos, or fake
profiles. Like other types of bullying, students who are cyberbullied are more likely to
miss school, have decreases in academic performance, have increased anxiety and
depression, and isolate themselves more from other people.

About 16-21% of students in middle and high school report being targets of
cyberbullying according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of
Justice Statistics (2015) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). If a
student appears to be a target of cyberbullying, encourage the student to not respond to
it and block the person that is bothering them. Talk to their parents about the issue and
be sure to let the student know that you are doing so. For students who appear to be
cyberbullying other students, be sure to talk to them about the long-term consequences
of inappropriate online behaviors and postings for their own future. Try to get them to
understand how their behavior really impacts other students- not only the target
student, but other students as well; speak to the student’s parents about your concerns
but be sure to notify the student about these conversations or have them involved in the
discussion.