HealthDay News — Bullying starts as early as elementary and middle school, and occurs more frequently for students who later identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, a new study suggests.
The study found that from fifth through 10th grade, children who later identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual were nearly twice as likely to be victims of weekly bullying during the previous year.
The findings were published in a letter in the May 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Students who identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual in 10th grade were three times as likely as students who identified solely as heterosexual to report being bullied at least weekly over the previous year.
In fifth graders who later identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, 13% reported being bullied, compared to 8% of heterosexual students. In seventh grade, those numbers were 8% versus 4% in those who said they were heterosexual.
Bullying overall declined as the children grew older, dropping from a high of more than 13% in fifth grade to 4% in high school for those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens were also approximately 56% more likely than heterosexual teens to experience physical harm, threats of harm, name-calling, being the subject of nasty rumors or social exclusion at least weekly over the previous year in all three grades.
Schuster MA, et al. A Longitudinal Study of Bullying of Sexual-Minority Youth. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372:1872-1874.