Report finds students are experiencing more cyberbullying, teachers are seeing more verbal abuse

The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics released their annual report on indicators of school crime and safety for 2022 and found that the rate of cyberbullying among students doubled from 8 to 16 percent from 2009–10 and 2019–20, though rates of in-person bullying fell from 23 percent to 15 percent. During the same time period, students being verbally abusive toward teachers in public schools rose from 5 to 10 percent.

The report provides a snapshot of such instances including student and teacher victimization; school shootings; fights, weapons and illegal drugs; discipline and mental health practices; and how this all effects the school environment. Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2022 aims to provide policymakers and practitioners knowledge of the recent landscape to inform the creation of preventative and responsive programs and policies.

Most of the data included is from 2019–21. The report considers that students likely spent less time in physical classrooms in 2020 and 2021 than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and readers are encouraged to interpret data from these years within the context of the times.

Comparing 2009–10 and 2019–20, the number of schools that reported at least one issue involving students committing acts of disrespect toward teachers per week rose from 9 to 15 percent and the occurrence of widespread disorder in the classroom grew from 3 to 4 percent.

Incidents of nonfatal student and teacher victimization (including theft and violent victimization), some disciplinary problems, and reports of unfavorable conditions at elementary and secondary schools, however, have decreased or remained stagnant, according to the report. For example:

  • Just 6 percent of public school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student in 2020–21 vs. 10 percent in 2011–12. Reports of teachers being physically attacked by a student also dropped from 6 to 4 percent in that period.
  • From 2009–10 to 2019–20, lower rates of student bullying (23 vs. 15 percent), student sexual harassment of other students (3 vs. 2 percent), and student harassment of other students based on sexual orientation or gender identity (3 vs. 2 percent) occurred at least once per week.
  • Among 12- to 18-year-old students, between 2009 and 2019, unfavorable school conditions declined, including the presence of gangs (20 vs. 9 percent), being called hateful words (9 vs. 7 percent) and seeing hate-related graffiti (29 vs. 23 percent).
  • High schoolers in 2019 reported dips in the following scenarios compared to 2009: having been in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months (8 vs. 11 percent); carrying a weapon on school property in the previous 30 days (3 vs. 6 percent); and using alcohol at least once during the previous 30 days (29 vs. 42 percent).

Public schools are implementing safety and security practices to improve conditions on campus, like controlling building access, using security cameras, requiring employees to wear badges and having security staff on-campus regularly, and are increasingly offering mental health services for students.

More details on the 23 indicators covered in the report can be viewed via the online Indicator System.