Most Bullied States in America – 2019

Bullying is a pervasive problem that can appear in schools, workplaces, and even public spaces. The effects of bullying can be short term and long term, following people long after the occurrences of bullying have actually taken place with dire consequences.

While all states have implemented some kind of anti-bullying law, there are still many high-profile cases of bullying leading to suicide attempts among youth. The prevalence of cyberbullying makes it challenging for adults and educators to monitor bullying and gives youths unlimited access to their victims at all hours of the day. Cyberbullying can also fall in a grey area outside of school bullying policies and procedures.

Ultimately bullying is a quality of life concern and there are some shocking statistics that show just how devastating bullying can be.

  • Bullying, both those being bullied and those doing the bullying, leads to an increase in suicidal behavior

  • As many as 1 in 3 students report being bullied

  • Public health experts have called for bullying to be declared as a public health crisis

  • Bullying can lead to changes in eating habits, sleep disruption, poor school performance, chronic depression, self-harm, among many other consequences

  • Bullies can also experience difficulties in life including increased risk of substance abuse, future spousal or child abuse, challenges with building relationships, and more


Despite many changes, bullying has proven to be a challenging teenage crisis to manage in many states. Even as states have implemented new laws like the Missouri Cyberbullying Law and the Tennessee Anti-Bullying Law, there is still a clear problem with bullying that has not been eliminated.

Louisiana, for example, still leads the nation in incidents of bullying with nearly 1 in 4 students reporting being bullied and a staggering 1 in 10 students reporting being threatened or harmed with a weapon at school. Other states that have previously ranked poorly like Arkansas and Mississippi have failed to show much improvement with regards to their ranking on the list.

bullied states-heatmap

The data gathered also shows that many of the states struggling with bullying on school property are also seeing that problem extend to the digital world. The states with the most students reporting being bullied online are the same states that tend to rank amongst the highest for students reporting being bullied at school.

electronically bullied
harrassment threats
teachers injury
threatened weapon
physical fight

Ranking of the most bullied states in America in 2019

2District of Columbia
14Rhode Island
19West Virginia
20South Carolina
28North Carolina
30New York
31New Mexico
32South Dakota
37New Hampshire
43New Jersey
51North Dakota


There are a number of metrics used to create the rankings for most bullied states. Each metric fits within a group of similar metrics and that group is given a weighting which is as follows:

  • Bullying occurrence score – 50%

  • School violence score – 25%

  • Bullying impact score – 20%

  • State bullying laws – 5%

After the weightings have been evaluated, each state is left with a bullying score. The states with the highest scores have the largest challenges with bullying currently.

Insights from data

There are a number of important insights that can be drawn from the bullying data collected. This can help indicate the trends regarding bullying and maybe even identify states where efforts are proving to be successful for other states to duplicate in their own communities.

Has it gotten better or worse?

An initial look at the rankings and scores seems to indicate that the fight against bullying is proving to be ineffective. Some states like Louisiana remain near the top of the list for most bullied states as they have in the past. For a few states, the scores have been trending even worse over time despite new laws and awareness campaigns aimed at bullying.

However, give the list more than a cursory look and it’s possible to see some positives as states work hard to address the challenges presented by bullying. Idaho is one example, moving from their position as the second most bullied state to find themselves in the middle of the rankings. West Virginia also made a similar move. In fact, aside from the topmost bullied states, other states have appeared to make important strides in reducing bullying in their state.

What can be attributed to this change? It may be hard to pick out any one reason but many states have stepped up enforcement when it comes to bullying. Take Missouri, for example. The state has made it a felony to bully someone and take charge of school bullying policies and procedures by making it mandatory for schools to report cases of bullying to the authorities.

California and North Carolina have gone a step further with legislation to target cyberbullying. Students can face significant fines and jail time even if their bullying extends beyond school property and into the online domain. Of course, laws cannot singlehandedly solve these deep issues as shown in Louisiana which also adopted laws addressing bullying in classrooms and online. Clearly, laws are just one piece of the puzzle.

Can AI prevent cyberbullying?

Artificial intelligence is a buzzword being used a lot for everything from chatbots to diagnosing medical conditions to fighting bullying. In fact, Instagram announced in late 2018 that they would be implementing AI to help combat bullying on their platform.

The feature promises to proactively detect bullying in photos so that adults can quickly step in and stop the behavior before it progresses. Other apps for different social media platforms have been developed with varying degrees of success. Using AI, moderators can be notified of potential bullying much faster than if humans were to manually review all posts and comments.

Of course, technology can not do the job on its own. Most experts and bullying resources believe that stopping bullying begins with better education, communication, and understanding. Combined with AI, a complete anti-bullying strategy could prove to be successful.

Tips to getting rid of trolls

Bullying has been around long before the Internet and it may continue to exist in some form despite the best efforts of educators, parents, and artificial intelligence. Here are some tips that teenagers can use online when they feel they are being bullied by trolls:

  • Block and report offending users

  • Share bullying incidents with trusted adults

  • Document cyberbullying with screenshots

  • Watch for signs of cyberbullying in youth like depression, changes in device use, and emotional changes

For further reading

Many of the resources below can help educators, parents, and teens better understand the consequences of bullying, how to identify the signs of bullying, and how to prevent bullying in classrooms as well as online.

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