Bullying Prevention

Prevent Bullying

Worried boy sitting in front of school lockersOctober is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, which provides a perfect opportunity for schools, communities, and states to talk about the best ways to prevent bullying.CDC's Division of Violence Preventionrecognizes efforts to improve the school environment and to prevent bullying nationwide. We invite you to learn about bullying and what you can do to prevent it.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC supports evidence-based actions in communities to more effectively prevent bullying and youth violence. Research on preventing bullying is still developing, but promising evidence is available for school-wide programs. CDC is the federal leader in conducting surveillance and research activities to better understand and prevent bullying. Learn more about CDC's surveillance and research activities to prevent bullying.
Students walking up front steps of school building According to the 2013 YRBS, about 20% of high school students reported being bullied on school property in the past 12 months.

Assessing Bullying

Bullying is a form of youth violence that can be inflicted physically, verbally, socially (e.g., spreading rumors), or by damaging a young person's property. It can harm a young person physically, emotionally, and academically. Beyond the individual, bullying can hurt peers, families, schools, and neighborhoods.
Bullying is widespread in the United States both in and outside of schools.
  • According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey [5.67 MB] (YRBS), about 20% of high school students reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months before the survey. In addition, 15% of high school students reported they have been cyber-bullied in the past 12 months.1 Cyber-bullying or electronic aggression is bullying that occurs through email, a chat room, instant messaging, a website, text messaging, or videos or pictures posted on websites or sent through cell phones.
  • About 25% of middle school students (grades 6-8) reported being bullied at school in 2013.2

Risk and Protective Factors

Numerous factors can increase the risk of a youth engaging in or experiencing bullying. The presence of these factors, however, does not always mean that a young person will become someone who bullies or one who is bullied by others.
Factors associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in bullying behavior include poor impulse control, harsh parenting by caregivers, and attitudes that accept violence. Factors associated with a higher likelihood of victimization include friendship difficulties, poor self-esteem, and being perceived by peers as different or quiet.
Few studies have looked at the factors that protect a youth from bullying others or being bullied by others. What we do know is that having positive problem solving skills, supportive families, and a positive school climate help decrease bullying behaviors. The CDC fact sheet, Understanding Bullying [184 KB], provides more information about bullying and prevention.
Visit StopBullying.gov for additional resources and information and to see what activities the federal partners in bullying prevention have planned in October.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2013 [5.67 MB]. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2014;63(SS4).
  2. Robers S, Zhang A, Morgan RE, Musu-Gillette L. Indicators of school crime and safety: 2014 [4.14 MB] (NCES 2015-072/NCJ 248036). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice; 2015.

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