Bullying More Likely in Less Crowded U.S. States

Sad girl with friends excluding her
Teachers interested in helping to stop bullying can take the pledge to stand up for bullied students, sponsored by the National Education Association. FatCamera/E+/Getty Images

Anyone who has been packed into an airtight subway car during rush hour or visited a shopping mall near the holidays knows just how maddening crowds can be. People tend to like their personal space. Even if they're not sandwiched on a train, if someone is around folks all the time, that can take its toll, particularly on their mental health.

That's what makes a September 2018 WalletHub study about bullying so interesting. Researchers found that aggressive, abusive and intimidating behavior is generally more likely to lurk in less crowded states.


Four states in the top 10 for bullying scores — Idaho (No. 4), Alaska (No. 5), North Dakota (No. 6) and Wyoming (No. 10) — are among the seven least populated states in the U.S. Only one of the 10 most populated states, Pennsylvania (No. 20), cracks the top 20 in bullying scores. The states with the worst bullying problems — Louisiana (No. 1), Arkansas (No. 2) and Missouri (No. 3) — are in the bottom half of most populated states.

Here's a map of the United States from the WalletHub folks. If you hover over the state, you'll see that state's corresponding score for bullying prevalence.

Source: WalletHub

Researchers evaluated 47 states and Washington, D.C., on three factors:

  1. Bullying prevalence looked at metrics like the number of bullying incidents that occurred on school property involving high school students
  2. Bullying impact and treatment, for example, looked at things like the number of high school students who missed school to avoid being bullied
  3. Anti-bullying laws. This one's pretty straightforward and involved just tallying up the different laws that states had in place to deal with these issues.

One thing's clear: Bullying is a nationwide, and even worldwide, problem, with another child being bullied every seven minutes, according to the National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment.