Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Increased Bullying Risk for Specific Groups of Youth

Although most school-aged children are exposed to bullying in some form, certain sub-groups of adolescents are at higher risk for becoming the victims of bullying.

LGBT Youth and Bullying

There has been increased attention to youth bullied due to their non-heterosexual sexual orientation. In 2014, a nationwide survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) youth reports that 84.6 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 65 percent heard homophobic remarks and 40.1 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their perceived or assumed non-heterosexual sexual orientation.

This may be due, in part, to a culture in schools that tolerates bullying. Research has shown that a large percentage of bullying among students involves the use of homophobic teasing and slurs, and a national school climate survey reported that teachers intervene less when homophobic remarks are made in comparison to racist and sexist remarks.

LGBT youth and their heterosexual peers need to be in a school environment that promotes acceptance, and where the use of this language is not tolerated. If LGBT youth are the victims of violence, they need support from their families, schools, and communities so that the violence is not perpetuated.

School staff and clinicians should also take a trauma-informed approach to caring for LGBT youth who are victims of violence to better understand their feelings and reactions to violence or hate crimes.

Click here to download a CHOP fact sheet with need-to-know information and strategies for caregivers to handle bullying of LGBT youth.

Obese Youth and Bullying

Overweight and obese children, who represented more than one-third of children in 2010, are often the victims of bullying. A meta-analysis found overweight youth had approximately 20 percent increased odds for experiencing peer victimization, while obese youth has approximately 50 percent increased odds for experiencing peer victimization compared to their average-weight peers. Victimized youth who are obese or overweight have an increased chance of internalizing symptoms as compared to average-weight victims.

Another study found that socio-economic factors had no impact on whether an obese child was bullied; they were simply more likely to be bullied than their non-obese or overweight classmates. The bullying is not only limited to their peers. Research suggests that overweight and obese youth are also victims of bias and stereotyping by educators and even parents. Because of their vulnerable age, the consequences of bullying due to physical appearance span social, emotional, and academic outcomes, in addition to the adverse medical outcomes overweight and obese children already face.

Click here to download a CHOP fact sheet with warning signs and actionable tips to help youth victims of weight-related bullying.

Recommended Reading and Resources

Family Acceptance Project

Advocates for Youth- GLBTQ Issues

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): National Reports and Briefs

Research articles

Waasdorp, TE., Mehari, KR., & Bradshaw, CP. Obese and overweight youth: Risk for experiencing bullying victimization and internalizing symptoms. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2018 Volume 88, No. 4, pp. 483-491

Waasdorp, TE., Mehari, KR., Milam, AJ., & Bradshaw, CP. Health-related Risks for Involvement in Bullying among Middle and High Schoolers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2018