Teens Take Stand on Bullying, But Resources Are Still Needed

NEW YORK, N.Y. -September 16, 2010- Almost one in ten 13-15 year old teens (9%) and 3% of older teens, 16-18 years old, say they are always or often bullied to a point that makes them feel very sad, angry, sad or upset. Over one-quarter (28%) of all teens say they are sometimes bullied to this point.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 776 teens, ages 13-18 surveyed online between April 14 and 20, 2010.

Teens today are willing to take a stand – three in five (59%) say they would stand up for a person being bullied if they saw it happen. Two in five teens say they would either tell an adult outside of school (40%) or at their school (39%) if they saw bullying taking place. Teens say they would also work with the other teens in trouble, as 37% say they would talk to the person being bullied about what they think might help them.

Talking about their feelings

If they personally ever felt like they might hurt themselves, most teens say they would reach out to someone. One-quarter would talk to a counselor or psychologist about their feelings (24%) while almost half (49%) would talk with someone else about what was going on at the time. However a full one-quarter of teens (26%) say they would keep their feelings to themselves if they ever felt like they might hurt themselves.

Luckily, when asked to describe how they usually feel, almost two-thirds of teens (65%) say happy. However, one in ten (10%) say they usually feel worried while 5% say they usually feel sad, 3% say they usually feel mad and 1% of teens today say they usually feel scared.

If feeling sad, angry, scared or upset, over half of teens would turn to their mom (59%), over one-third to their brother or sister (36%), one-third to their dad (33%), and one in five to their grandparent (21%) or another family member (18%). Outside of their family, over two-thirds of teens (68%) would talk to a friend their age, while 20% would talk to a teacher, 13% to a school counselor and 6% to a coach. However, almost one in ten teens (8%) say they don feel they can talk to anyone if they are feeling very sad, angry, scared or upset.

Many of the tough situations teens face happen while they are at school and half of teens (49%) say their school counselor would be helpful if they needed someone to talk to about how they are feeling. But three in ten (31%) say their counselor would not be helpful and an additional one in five (20%) are not sure if he or she would be helpful.

So what?

Before the Internet and cell phones, bullying was something that happened mostly in person or maybe by spreading malicious gossip. Now, with all the different avenues open to kids, including online in social media, sending text messages or picture texts, or tweeting, teens have many more ways to potentially bully other kids. And, once something is out there in cyberspace, it’s very difficult for it to ever be totally erased. Schools and parents need to work to ensure teens know two things: First, that bullies know the potential consequences of their actions. Second that those being bullied know they have many adults they can turn to if they are being bullied.

 

TABLE 1

FREQUENCY OF BEING BULLIED

How often do you feel bullied by your peers to a point that makes you feel very sad, angry, scared or upset?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds

Total

Age

13-15

16-18

%

%

%

Always/Often (NET)

6

9

3

Always

1

2

1

Often

4

7

2

Sometimes/Never (NET)

92

91

94

Sometimes

28

34

22

Never

65

57

71

Decline to answer

2

 

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than 1%

 

TABLE 2

SAW SOMEONE ELSE BULLIED

If someone at school was being bullied, which of the following would you do?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds In School and Not Home-Schooled

Total

Age

13-15

16-18

%

%

%

Stand up for the person being bullied when I see it happen

59

54

66

Tell an adult outside of school (such as my parent or other family member)

40

48

31

Tell an adult at my school who could help

39

37

42

Talk to the person being bullied about what I think might help them

37

30

47

Other

9

11

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

HURTING THEMSELVES

If you ever felt like you might hurt yourself which of the following would you do?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds

Total
%

Talk about feelings (NET)

65

Talk to a counselor or a psychologist about my feelings

24

Talk to someone other than a counselor or psychologist about my feelings

49

Keep my feelings to myself

26

Decline to answer

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4

USUAL FEELINGS

Which one of the following describes how you usually feel lately?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds

Total
%

Happy

65
Worried 10
Sad 5
Mad 3
Scared 1
Something else 17

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 5

WHO WOULD YOU TALK TO?

Which of the following people do you feel you can talk to if you are feeling very sad, angry, scared or upset?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds

Total
%
Family (NET) 74
Mom 59
A brother or sister 36
Dad 33

A grandparent

21

Another family member

18

A friend my age

68

A teacher

20

A school counselor

13

A coach

6

Someone else

17

I don’t feel I can talk to anyone if I’m feeling very sad, angry, scared or upset

8

Note: Multiple responses accepted

 

TABLE 6

SCHOOL COUNSELORS

How helpful would your counselor be if you needed to talk to someone about how you are feeling?

Base: 13-18 Year Olds In School And Not Home-Schooled

Total

Gender

Male

Female

%

%

%

Helpful (NET)

49

55

43

Very helpful

20

24

16

Somewhat helpful

29

31

27

Not helpful (NET)

31

28

34

Not too helpful

16

14

17

Not at all helpful

15

14

16

Not sure

20

17

23

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 14 and 20, 2010 among 776 teens, 13-18 years old. Figures for 13-17 year olds were weighted where necessary for age, sex, race/ethnicity, parental education, urbanicity, and region. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary for the 18 year olds to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Harris Poll® #107, September 16, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research and Alexandria Cortese, Project Researcher, Youth and Education Research