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High School Ages

Bullying behavior is thought to decrease in high school, but reports are conflicting. It is possible that the number of reported bullying incidents decrease. However, the students who are bullied have likely been chronically bullied.

The consequences of prolonged bullying are grave. Bullied teenagers are more likely to feel isolated and alone. Bullying can make a bad situation for a depressed adolescent worse. Bullied children are more likely to feel isolated and alone. Teens who are bullied are at greater risk for contemplating or completing suicide than teens who are not bullied.

High school bullying often occurs in the locker room, in the hallways, on the computer or on a cell phone. Bullying decreases a student's sense of security at school, particularly in areas where the students aren't supervised. Ten percent of students who drop out of school report dropping out because of being bullied. Less supervision provides opportunities to bully or be bullied. High school freshmen are particularly vulnerable to bullying.


  • A student who is bullied has twice the likelihood of committing suicide than a student who isn’t bullied.
  • Twenty-five percent of youth, aged 11-19, are threatened via computer or cell phone.
  • Typically, a bully is either the same age or older than the victim.
  • Students that are bullied at least once a week experience: more thoughts of suicide and self-harm, more insomnia, poorer overall health, more depression and anxiety and social dysfunction.

What to watch for if your teenager is being bullied

Teenagers who are being bullied may display a wide range of concerning behaviors. Some teenagers become isolated from their friends and family. They may feel disconnected from their social relationships. A sudden loss of friends or disinterest in school events can be a sign of bullying.

Some teenagers experience somatic complaints such as headaches and stomachaches, and miss school to avoid bullying. Sleep or appetite disturbances may occur. Schoolwork can suffer with lack of concentration, preoccupation or loss of interest.

Teenagers who are bullied face a higher risk of experiencing self-destructive behaviors or thoughts. Being bullied has been linked to increased suicidal behaviors. Research in this area is ongoing.

What teenagers can do about bullying

  • Maintain neutral facial expressions (Bullies look for reactions!)
  • Tell someone (e.g. parent, teacher, school nurse)
  • Seek out the guidance counselor
  • Join an extracurricular activity to meet other/new friends
  • Ask a peer to support you in a confrontation
  • Respond with non-aggressive statements ("So what," "That's your opinion," "Okay")
  • Make assertive statements ("This is a waste of my time.")

What parents should watch for if concerned about high school bullying

  • Disconnecting from home and isolating self from peers
    • Sudden loss of friends, disinterest in school events
  • Somatic complaints (headache, stomachache)
  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbances
  • Declining school grades/quality of work
  • Self-destructive behaviors or thoughts
    • Suicidal talk/thoughts, depression, anxiety
    • Self-harm, running away from home
  • Explosive moodiness beyond normal pubescent behavior

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