Annual bullying survey

Last year, a record amount of students aged 12-20 completed the largest edition of ‘The Annual Bullying Survey’. We surveyed over 10,000 young people and measured their experiences of bullying, whilst also uncovering what it’s really like to grow up in a digital world.

The groundbreaking report unveils new statistics about the climate of bullying within the United Kingdom and provides an intimate portrayal of the impact social media and online identity is having on young people. If you are yet to read the report you can find it here.

Click below to download our brand new 2018 survey report:

Annual Bullying Survey 2018

Unlike previous editions of The Annual Bullying Survey, we have decided to make our recommendations for parents/guardians, educators, policy makers and stakeholders completely digital. This allows us to link to, and include the latest resources and insights to bring us even closer to combatting bullying once and for all.

Appearance, Body Weight, Size or Shape Based Bullying

Appearance and weight-related bullying has impacted half of young people and this can be damaging to self-esteem, often with long-term impacts on confidence and self-perception. As this is often a symptom of low self-esteem from the perpetrator, we recommend body confidence training for all students.

Body positive messages need to be promoted widely throughout schools and colleges. Workshops with guest speakers to promote positive body image, health campaigns featuring different, healthy body shapes and sizes and PSHE lessons on health issues such as anorexia and extreme dieting are some examples of positive measures you can take.

Interests and Hobbies Based Bullying

Interests/Hobbies derived bullying was the second greatest reason given for bullying; affecting over a third of students. It is important to provide the opportunity for a wide range of extracurricular activities and enrichment programmes that represent the interests of all of your students. Embracing events such as Black History Month, culture weeks, special days, LGB&T pride, talent shows, and school or media projects can be a great way to bring different demographics together and celebrate diversity.
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Gender Stereotype Based Bullying

Bullying for not conforming to gender stereotypes affects a significant number of bullied students and continues to limit young people’s future ambitions and careers. Educating and engaging with young people about preconceived gender role ideas and stereotypes can help in ensuring they understand the limitations this puts on both genders. Males are more likely to bully than females because of the harmful gender norms attached to masculinity, so both males and females should be encouraged to take part in a range of activities, courses and positions of authority within schools and colleges.

Do not segregate genders within lessons or extra curricular activities; especially within sports, science, performing arts, computing and business. Gender neutral facilities are, in addition, a positive way of removing gender barriers.

Bullying of Minority Groups

A large proportion of bullying is often prejudice based and due to attitudes towards a disability, race, culture, gender identity or sexual orientation. It is important to ensure that all minority groups are fully and positively represented and that appropriate support services are made available and endorsed throughout educational establishments.

Dealing with those who bully

It is vital not to overlook the fact that many students who bully others do so as a coping mechanism for their own trauma and stressful situations that are not being addressed. It may be that the student has experienced a significant bereavement or there could be abuse in their home life. Try to compassionately understand a student who is bullying in order to find the source of the problem. Responding with negativity and punishment may not be a strategy that meets the complex needs of all students. It is progressive to avoid the villainisation of those who bully and we strongly advise studying the insights contained within our research reports (in particular The Annual Bullying Survey 2016) in order to proactively help all young people.

Further reading:
– Annual Bullying survey 2018
– Why people bully


Of those who reported bullying a significant number experienced bullying online. It is essential that schools and colleges take cyberbullying seriously and treat it on the same level as other bullying issues. Teachers should proactively monitor the potential signs of cyberbullying as they can be less obvious than verbal or physical bullying in the classroom.

Education is key in arming all students with the knowledge of how to stay safe online and how to report offensive content; PSHE lessons and workshops are effective spaces for this but we would strongly recommend teaching Media Information Literacy / Digital Citizenship so that students have the resources and resilience to cope if they are affected and feel able to reach out for support if they need it.

Please do get in touch or check the website for our resources which are updated to reflect the changing nature of social media and online trends. For further reading, visit the Cyberbullying Hub

Mediation and Restorative Justice Techniques

Although zero tolerance policies may be appropriate at times, we strongly suggest that schools and colleges utilise mediation and restorative justice techniques wherever possible. Mediation can be highly effective in rebuilding friendships where bullying has occurred as a result of a fall-out between friends or peer groups. It encourages understanding and creates empathy for the person being bullied and can prevent those involved from engaging in bullying behaviour again.

Other restorative justice techniques can be effective in enabling the person bullying to reflect on their behaviour and challenge their views and actions. It can be a useful space for them to open up about any issues they may be facing.

Reporting to Teachers and Family

Teachers and families were equally the 1st most turned-to source of support for students. With over a third left feeling dissatisfied with the response from teachers this is an area that needs addressing. It is essential that teachers are regularly trained in bullying protocol and are approachable, proactive and fully aware of your anti-bullying procedures and how best to support students. With 89% of bullying reported to parents/guardians resulting in a far higher satisfaction rate it is vital to keep an open dialogue of consultations between teachers and parents/guardians so parents feel able to express or raise any concerns and work together with schools and colleges to solve any issues. This collaborative approach should begin to reduce the numbers of students skipping school and being negatively affected by issues such as depression due to bullying.

Digital Support

Young people are increasingly turning to the internet for advice and support. At Ditch the Label, we provide the largest online support service for those who are either being bullied, or are bullying others. Support is confidential, innovative and empowering.
Please feel free to signpost your students to our website.

Help can be found here:

For Parents / Guardians

Aside from the below recommendations, we now have new guides and support materials written specifically for parents and guardians which are freely available here.

First and foremost, we advise parents to build open and honest relationships with their children so that they know they can talk to you about any issues that may be troubling them and create a home place culture that is inclusive and allows for freedom of expression. It is important they feel comfortable approaching parents for help as it can be daunting for young people to speak about their experience as they may be embarrassed, or even afraid of the potential repercussions of doing so.

Familiarise yourself with common warning signs that they may project if they are being bullied, these can often include a low mood, loss in appetite, a desire for isolation and sudden changes in behaviour, many of which have been identified in this report. If a child is being bullied, families must familiarise themselves with the school’s anti-bullying procedures, contact the school and follow up with what action is being taken. We also strongly recommend that parents familiarise themselves with social media platforms such as social networking sites and apps that are popular with young people in order to advise them on how to report content or bullying.

Young people often tell us they do not think their parents will understand, or take cyberbullying seriously so it is crucial to be aware of the severe consequences of bullying. For more information please visit the dedicated Parents and Guardians area which can be accessed by clicking on ‘For Parents’ at the bottom of our website at You will find full information on how to spot bullying, how best to help and detailed advice on reporting bullying.

Suggested reading for parents/carers:
– Signs your Teen is being Bullied
– When Teachers Don’t Act
– Top Ten Tips for Parents: How to talk to your son
– Sue Atkins on Talking to your Teen about Body Image

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For Teens

It is important for anybody who is being bullied to firstly understand that it is not their fault. The person doing the bullying is likely going through a difficult time or is projecting their low self-esteem onto others. It is always important to be vocal about bullying by reporting it or by talking about it with a friend, family member or one of our mentors at Ditch the Label.

Certain types of bullying are considered to be hate crimes and can be reported to the Police, based on severity. We always advocate more holistic approaches to tackling bullying and we have advice and support materials available on our website for those who may want to consider speaking to the person bullying them, or to better understand the psychology of those who bully.

Sometimes, bullying can have extreme impacts on those who experience it; especially if it is over a prolonged period of time. In cases of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, it is important to speak to an adult or trained professional as soon as possible. We recommend the Samaritans (116 123) and Childline (0800 11 11).

Ditch the Label provide a confidential online advice and support service:

Further help and support is available to anyone who has been, or is, experiencing bullying, including those who are bullying others, via our website at – talk to us today.

in game abuse

Ditch the Label and Habbo have teamed up to find out the extent and nature of online bullying and in game abuse within digital gaming environments. Here’s what we found out, in a nutshell:

In:Game Abuse

57% of people have been bullied in a game
64% have been trolled in an online game
57% have been subjected to hate speech in game
47% of people have received threats
40% have experienced unwanted sexual contact
38% have been hacked
34% have had personal information shared in a game

 Read More

Those who experience bullying in real life, are more likely to use video games as a way of escape and distraction from the hassle they get offline. Imagine getting home after being bullied at school, only to go online to receive yet more abuse in games from absolute strangers – no one should have to put up with that!

80% of those surveyed said they have never bullied somebody in an online game, this may be the case, however this could also be due to the fact that some may not even realise that they are displaying bullying behaviours. Let’s enjoy games the way they are supposed to be played by taking a united approach to tackle bullying online.

Find out more

Check out our gaming content below for help with trolling and cyberbullying and you can even take our quiz to see if you’re showing signs of trolling behaviours online:

Confused by all this gaming lingo!? Click here to find an ‘Easter egg’ of gaming terms that may have been baffling you and your mates!

Get Help

Need more help? You can talk anonymously with one of our digital mentors who can help you overcome online bullying and trolling, for once and for all! Maybe you’ve got something to say about trolling? Simply join the community and get typing!

twitter, trolling, misogyny online

In conjunction with leading social intelligence company BrandWatch, we analysed misogynistic behaviour and ideas of masculinity on Twitter

[You can read the full report here]

Our Annual Bullying Survey 2016 (a study in which we looked at why young people bully others) revealed that those who identified as being male, or who had grown up in a male-dominated household were more likely to bully than those who identified as female or who had greater female influences at home. In response to this survey, we partnered up with leading social intelligence company BrandWatch, to see if our findings were also reflective of behaviours across social networks, specifically Twitter.

After analysing 19 million tweets from both the UK and US over a four year period, we found that 1 in 3 of all discussions associated with masculine behaviour on Twitter referenced violence; ranging from physical aggression, gun violence, domestic violence and war. However, in contrast to our initial findings, females were found to be the largest perpetrators of misogyny on Twitter, with 52% of all misogynistic tweets authored by women. Out of the 19 million tweets analysed, nearly 3 million of those were flagged as misogynistic insults.


“Females were found to be the largest perpetrators of misogyny on Twitter”


We know from existing research that men are less likely to tell somebody if they are experiencing bullying; societal constructs of masculinity have long denied many boys and men around the world freedom of visceral expression; taught from a young age to suppress their emotions, to ‘man up’ or look ‘weak’. But things are changing; what it means to be a man is a growing talking point – after analysing discussions on masculinity in four key areas, (how an individual behaves, how they look, their personality and lifestyle preferences) we found that Twitter users are utilising the network to question and challenge existing ideas of masculinity, as are brands and media sources – which is promising news, as advertising plays a major role in reinforcing notions of gender.

Although perceptions are slowly shifting and stereotypes of masculinity are being challenged, masculinity-related insults unfortunately remain prevalent. This is especially the case among authors associated with family or parenting, which suggests that these terms and attitudes may be transferred to future generations. There were also indications that exhibiting certain behaviours are still largely considered the domain of a specific gender – for example, 1 in 3 conversations over Twitter described the act of crying as a feminine behaviour, whereas stoicism and a lack of emotional response were associated with manliness.

“1 in 3 conversations over Twitter still describe the act of crying as a non-masculine behaviour”


This report is crucial to helping us better understand the constructs of masculinity so that Ditch the Label can work to proactively reduce rates of bullying and to help encourage more males to reach for support when they need it. By exploring the usage of misogynistic language used across Twitter, we also better understand the broader gender landscape which helps us in our campaign for greater gender equality.

Bullying Statistics in the UK – The Annual Bullying Survey 2016

For our updated 2019 Annual Bullying Survey, click here:

Welcome to The Annual Bullying Survey 2016, the fourth and largest edition of our yearly benchmark of bullying in the United Kingdom. We surveyed 8,850 young people aged 12-20 in partnership with schools and colleges from across the country. Our free report has thousands of the latest bullying statistics and fully explores the reasons why young people bully others. Included in the report is the following:

• Key bullying statistics in the UK
• The motivations of bullying
• Frequency and nature of bullying experienced
• The impact of bullying
• Rates of young people bullying others
• Reasons why young people bully others
• The impact of family dynamics, stress and trauma and relationships on bullying behaviour
• Feedback for schools and colleges
• Recommendations
• Real stories and experiences

The report also comes with tips and advice for schools, colleges, practitioners, parents/guardians and young people.

UK Bullying Statistics 2016: Download The Annual Bullying Survey 2018 Now

Key Findings

• 1.5 million young people (50%) have been bullied within the past year.
• 145,800 (19%) of these were bullied EVERY DAY.
• People who have been bullied are almost twice as likely to bully others
• Twice as many boys as girls bully (66% of males vs. 31% females).
• 57% of female respondents have been bullied, 44% of male respondents and 59% of respondents who identified as trans have been bullied.
• 24% of those who have been bullied go on to bully.
• Based on their own definition 14% of young people admit to bullying somebody, 12% say they bully people daily.
• Twice as many boys as girls bully (66% of males vs. 31% females).
• 20% of all young people have physically attacked somebody.
• 44% of young people who have been bullied experience depression.
• 41% of young people who have been bullied experience social anxiety.
• 33% of those being bullied have suicidal thoughts.

The Report – Bullying Statistics 2016

Annual Bullying Survey 2016

Women aren’t born gentle and men aren’t born strong

Gender has become a topic of ongoing discussion internationally and whilst progress has been made it’s clear that our vision for true gender equality has not yet been realised. Our 2015 ‘Annual Bullying Survey’ drew attention to a worrying statistic which highlighted how nearly a quarter of young people who experienced bullying cited attitudes towards their perceived levels of masculinity and femininity as an aggressor for the behaviour.

We have consistently found that young people are restricted by gender stereotypes and face considerable social consequences for not conforming to them. The Gender Report 2016 allowed us to explore the lived experience of gender and young people’s attitudes towards notions of masculinity and femininity. Through examining the role gender stereotypes play in constructing young people’s identities and the implications they hold for their experience of education and career prospects we gained valuable insight into the inequalities our generation faces.

When respondents were asked to describe masculinity and femininity, we found there was international agreement that femininity was a measure of being gentle, well presented, friendly, family orientated and approachable. Conversely, there was much more variance in the descriptors young people chose to define masculinity. This suggests that young people find it easier to define and articulate the meaning of masculinity which raises questions about the freedom young women have to construct their own identities.

Our research findings imply that gender stereotypes, which are deeply ingrained in our society, construct female personalities more prescriptively than for males, therefore highlighting a constraining patriarchal inequality that weakens a woman’s flexibility in choosing her own identity. However, The Gender Report also drew attention to our finding that all cultures appeared to heavily associate strength with masculinity which again highlighted international conformity to problematic gender stereotyping. This poses serious limitations to men’s identity construction too that could be indicative of the harmful consequences men face if they don’t identify with this descriptor.

Pressure to conform to gender stereotypes can have serious implications for a young person’s mental health. For example, CALM have found that the biggest killer for men aged between 20 and 45 in the UK is suicide and there is a clear correlation between the pressures imposed on men to be ‘manly’ and the experience of mental health issues.

At Ditch the Label, we know that your gender doesn’t determine your personality, a woman isn’t born gentle and a man isn’t born strong, behaviours are learnt and these identities have been constructed for us, but we know this can change.


Interestingly, our research highlighted that despite the gendered expectations imposed on our personalities, a significant number of respondents in the UK saw themselves as being somewhere in the middle of masculinity and femininity which may be suggestive of young people’s internal experience of gender as a spectrum rather than as a fixed identity. This finding was particularly promising as it encourages young people to view their own individuality and suggests a breaking away from gender stereotypes. However, there was still a great deal of conformity that remained amongst male and female respondents as well as individuals who identified as trans*, which indicates that the gendered experience still holds particular significance to these groups.

Our research aimed to explore whether young people believed personality was gender specific and this highlighted some problematic perceptions that need addressing. For example, the majority of respondents believed that women were more compassionate and emotional than men. This then constructs the experience of emotions as female which can, in turn, pose serious problems for a man’s mental health. In addition, by defining compassion as a female characteristic we may deter men from performing roles associated with empathy, such as professions like nursing and childcare, which may be indicative of the overrepresentation of women in these careers. Constructing women as emotional can also be particularly disempowering as our society tends to devalue these qualities and can create false images of women being irrational and unstable. This finding also highlights how society imposes an unfair burden on women by expecting them to be compassionate, which is rooted in archaic gender stereotypes that limits a woman’s role to caregiving and childbearing.

It’s concerning that women in the 21st century may still experience a sense of moral failing if they don’t present themselves as compassionate and emotional. In fact, we found that 44% of young people had been treated unfairly for not conforming to gender stereotypes. This is hardly surprising if we consider how gendered assumptions and prejudice attitudes are internalised and reproduced in our society.

But what are the consequences of gendering our personality traits? Well, if we consider our finding that young people believe women are more family orientated than men, we can see what implications this may have on gender equality. For example, whilst the last 60 years have seen a huge influx in women entering the workforce, by continuing to identify them with the family we’re imposing a double burden upon women where they are often expected to complete a second shift at home (of childcare, housework and emotional labour) after a day of (often underpaid) work.

Defining men outside of the family poses additional problems to our illusion of gender equality. For example, the work of single dads is often devalued and the parental rights of men repeatedly overlooked. Seeing women as more family orientated than men also puts more emphasis on men having a successful career. This is particularly problematic as not only is male unemployment at an all-time high, but changes in the labour market (e.g. advances in technology) have meant many blue collar jobs (previously associated with working-class men) are disappearing, leaving many male identities feeling fractured and also at risk of developing mental health issues. Separating men from the family also denies them of the fulfilment they may experience from being in the home and as well as overlooking the benefits the rest of the family could get from their increased involvement in it.

We found that gender inequality extended well beyond the home though, which became apparent when we measured whether young people thought careers were gender specific or not. The gender report highlighted how young people believe that men were better at legal and political jobs than women. This belief mirrors women’s underrepresentation in legal and political professions. Whilst we have experienced a big increase in women and minorities entering legal professions, women are still underrepresented at its top levels. Similarly, despite a number of international efforts to increase women’s participation in all levels of government, women are still vastly underrepresented in politics too – as Caroline Lucas recently referenced in her Ditch the Label blog. This could be indicative of our finding that young people believe women are more closely associated with family life. By assuming woman’s proper sphere is the ‘private’ one you construct a man’s role within the ‘public’ domain that’s associated with political authority contestation which mirrors the personality traits (e.g. strength and dominance) that young people closely identify men with.

Our findings also mirror men’s overrepresentation in sport and business. Only 1% believe that women are better at sport than men. The last year has been a great year for women’s sport, with England’s women’s’ football team winning the quarterfinals in the world cup, for example. But despite such achievements and brilliant campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ working towards getting more women into sport, these young people’s views reflect how women’s sport has a long way to go before it joins men in the mainstream. Similarly, whilst more women are breaking into business, we are still missing an equal representation of female business leaders in companies. Perhaps our finding that femininity is associated with being gentle, well presented, friendly, family orientated and approachable, is by definition, excluding women from this domain. Our research demonstrates how these assumptions about women have been internalised young people largely believe that men are better at managing a business than women.

Reflecting upon the findings from the gender report, it’s no surprise that 35% of teenage girls and 63% of trans people believe their gender will have a negative effect on their future career prospects. It’s clear that inequalities in the labour market extend far beyond the ‘pay gap’ that has become such an important point of discussion this year.

More needs to be done to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion, especially within subjects, career pathways, lifestyles and interests. Are we afraid of young people’s identities deviating from the accepted stereotypes of masculinity and femininity? Well, women aren’t born gentle and men aren’t born strong so it’s about time we get over that fact and start reshaping our society accordingly. Instead, let’s champion young people’s right to define their own identities free from society’s outdated and limiting gendered expectations. Let’s start celebrating the strengths of our world’s diversity and embrace the possibilities a future of equal representation could bring. This world needs to hear all of our voices and gender will no longer define our potential.

This article is written in response to The Gender Report 2016 – click here to view it.

As one of the UK’s leading anti-bullying charities, we are constantly researching the current landscape of equality, both online and offline. We took to Google and Bing – both leading search engines, to find out what the most searched for terms were surrounding different demographic profiles. Some of the results were so abusive, they have already been hidden by the search engines.










As part of The Annual Bullying Survey 2015, we asked young people how they felt about their appearance. We found that 1 in 2 young people would alter how they looked in order to feel better about themselves. Check out our interactive infograph belows to find out how the response varies between different demographics. In this series, we look at variation based on: gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion and household income.

If you don’t feel particularly great about how you look, check out our Feeling Beautiful Guide.

Gender Variation

Sexuality Variation

Disability Variation

Ethnicity Variation

Religion Variation

Household Income Variation

These infographics were kindly and lovingly produced by our friends at Intel Mcafee as part of their Brighton charity day in 2015. Thank you!