The Prevalence and Nature of Bullying at School

James P. Lynch, The American University

Recent incidents of multiple murder at school have drawn attention to the precipitants of these rare but terrible acts. In the discussions of the causes and remedies of these acts, bullying at school is raised as a possible precipitant of serious violence at school. Unfortunately, there is relatively little systematic data on the prevalence and nature of bullying at school. This paper uses the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to estimate the prevalence and distribution of bullying at school. Two different approaches are used to estimate bullying. The first treats bullying as a form of repeat victimization at school so that repeated threats and minor assaults at school is considered bullying. A second approach uses questions from the School Crime Supplement that allow the respondent to define the concept of bullying. The estimates and the distributions of bullying under these two methods are compared to determine how sensitive these estimates are to differences in survey design and strategy.

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Updated 05/20/2006