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National Bullying Prevention Month – A Year in Review

Hopefully by now you are already aware that October is National Bullying Prevention Month. With the goal remaining bullying prevention, let’s look back at a few news stories that gained national attention over the last twelve months since our last Blog during the month of awareness.

News Story One: January 25, 2021, A Houston father of five is dead after a confrontation that allegedly stemmed from his 15-year-old daughter being cyberbullied by another teen.[1] Brandon Curtis, 35, was shot more than once on Friday evening. The shooter claimed he shot Curtis in self-defense, as reported by  ABC-13. The Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, tweeted that Curtis took his daughter to fight a group of teenagers. During the fight, Gonzalez alleges, several other people got involved, including Curtis. Harris tells the station that her daughter had been bullied on social media by a teenage boy for nine months. She shared some profanity-laced messages with the station. Harris claimed she and her husband spoke with the boy’s father a few months ago, but that the bullying had never subsided. She said her husband, daughter and son went back to address the issue for a second time when the fight broke out.

News Story Two: March 14, 2021, Pennsylvania Woman Accused of Using Deepfake Technology to Harass Cheerleaders. Three teenagers in a Bucks County cheerleading program were subjected to a campaign of harassment using altered videos and spoof phone numbers, police officials said.[2]

News Story Three: An upstate New York teen died by suicide after he was allegedly blackmailed with “personal” images on social media, according to his family.[3] Riley Basford, 15, took his own life on March 30 in Potsdam, New York after being “bombarded” with online threats, the Watertown Daily Times reported. Shortly before the teen’s death, an unidentified social media user threatened to leak sensitive snapshots of Basford if he didn’t pay $3,500. New York State Police confirmed they’re investigating a number of other incidents in which teen victims were targeted online in similar catfishing schemes.

News Story Four: July 1, 2021, Cyberbullying of Wilson 6th grader abruptly stops after possible hacker says mom ‘told me to apologize.’ A message appeared, it said “I won’t hack you anymore. My mom caught me hacking you.” A second message appeared saying, “She told me to apologize. I’m sorry for hacking you.”

What we know from stories such as the four referenced here, is that bullying is still a prevalent part of modern society. The consequences of bullying activities left largely unchecked show a potential to be fatal. Bullying can affect everyone—victims, aggressors, families, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, suicide, and homicide. It is important to talk to people in your community, including kids, to determine whether bullying is a concern and to educate.

Kids Who are Bullied

According to https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/effects those ids who are bullied can experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

There appears to be a correlation between victims and violence. A very small number of bullied children may retaliate through extremely violent measures.[4] In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

Kids Who Bully Others

Conversely, kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
  • Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults


Bullying Statistics [5]

How Common Is Bullying

  • About 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide.
  • Students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied said they thought those who bullied them:
    • Had the ability to influence other students’ perception of them (56%).
    • Had more social influence (50%).
    • Were physically stronger or larger (40%).
    • Had more money (31%).

Bullying in Schools

  • Nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • The following percentages of students ages 12-18 had experienced bullying in various places at school:
    • Hallway or stairwell (43.4%)
    • Classroom (42.1%)
    • Cafeteria (26.8%)
    • Outside on school grounds (21.9%)
    • Online or text (15.3%)
    • Bathroom or locker room (12.1%)
    • Somewhere else in the school building (2.1%)
  • Approximately 46% of students ages 12-18 who were bullied during the school year notified an adult at school about the bullying.


  • Among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15 % were bullied online or by text.
  • An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Types of Bullying

  • Students ages 12-18  experienced  various types of bullying, including:
    • Being the subject of rumors or lies (13.4%)
    • Being made fun of, called names, or insulted (13.0%)
    • Pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (5.3%)
    • Leaving out/exclusion (5.2%)
    • Threatened with harm (3.9%)
    • Others tried to make them do things they did not want to do (1.9%)
    • Property was destroyed on purpose (1.4%)

By increasing the awareness of some of the effects of bullying on victims, aggressors, and the related statistics,  hopefully by October of 2022 we will collectively see a decline in the number and frequency of bullying occurrences.  The goal remains consistent, bullying prevention.

[1] https://people.com/crime/texas-dad-killed-confronting-group-daughter-cyberbullying-says-family/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/us/raffaela-spone-victory-vipers-deepfake.html

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/now/split-second-madness-ny-teen-145300933.html

[4] https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/effects

[5] https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/facts

Posted by Jammy Kiggundu, Attorney, Social Advocate and Cyberbullying Expert on 5 Oct 2021