ROBERT W.S. COULTER, PHD, MPH

Some youths are more likely than others to be victims of bullying and cyberbullying. Researchers want to understand why this is happening and how to prevent it. The following results are from youths across the United States who completed the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths are twice as likely as heterosexual (straight) youths to be bullied. Transgender youths are also twice as likely as nontransgender youths to be bullied. These findings are true for both traditional bullying and cyberbullying.

Data from youths in Pittsburgh suggest the same story is true in our own neighborhoods. Forty percent of LGB youths were bullied in the past year, compared to only 22 percent of heterosexuals. Twenty percent of LGB youths were cyberbullied in the past year versus 8 percent of heterosexuals. These results are from 1,813 teens who completed the Health Allegheny Teens Survey (HATS). The University of Pittsburgh Evaluation Institute administered HATS in 2014.

Being bullied has been linked with multiple mental and physical health problems. Victims of bullying are much more likely than nonvictims to be depressed, think about suicide and use alcohol or drugs. All these health outcomes are higher among LGB and transgender youths. Bullying has also been shown to be a major contributor to the differences between these groups’ health outcomes.

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