Survey Finds Bullying to Be the Most Important Issue Facing Teens Today




Harlequin TEEN and The Jed Foundation’s Love is Louder survey finds

bullying issues more acute than drinking and teen pregnancy


  • 78% of teens say bullying remains worse than parents realize
  • 70% of teens and young women say they have been bullied
  • 69% say they do not bully others, yet more than 30% engage in behaviors deemed as bullying, such as gossiping, name-calling and teasing
  • 87% are bullied in person while only 14% say bullying occurs online
  • 35% of teens turn to books and reading to cope with bullying, while 30% turn to physical activity


NEW YORK (Oct. 10, 2012) – A new survey* by Harlequin TEEN, a leading publisher of novels for teens and young adults, and the Jed Foundation’s Love is Louder movement, finds that 70 percent of young women between 16 and 21 have been bullied, with many young women admitting the issue is more serious than adults think.


The release of the survey coincides with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and the availability of Speechless, a Harlequin TEEN novel that examines the impact of words and the devastating consequences that result from gossiping. In Speechless, the book’s main character, Chelsea Knot, stumbles upon a classmate in a private situation and proceeds to tell her discovery to friends. The consequences are severe and lead Chelsea to take a vow of silence, during which she embarks on a journey of self-discovery that leads her to better understand the power of her words and actions.


“We know the issue of bullying is important to our readers and through Speechless, we hope to offer resources that drive more conversation,” said Michelle Renaud, Senior Manager, Harlequin. “For instance, Harlequin TEEN and Love is Louder have developed a book party guide that encourages teens to get together and use Speechless to talk about these issues and start a movement towards positive action.”


To promote discussion and prevent bullying, Harlequin TEEN teamed up with Love is Louder, a movement that supports teens or young adults who feel mistreated or hopeless. Harlequin TEEN has included a discussion guide in Speechless that encourages conversation about the book’s key themes and the impact of our words and actions. Through this collaboration, Harlequin TEEN and Love is Louder aim to raise awareness about the resources available for teens to talk about bullying, such as the book party guide.



Key survey findings from the Harlequin Teen and Love is Louder survey include:

  • Bullying based on physical appearance is dominant; 75 percent of respondents say they are bullied about their overall looks, weight, clothing or hair


  • In general, 58 percent of respondents say emotional bullying – such as spreading rumors or being ignored – is the most hurtful form of bullying. Only 15 percent of respondents say physical bullying – hitting, pushing – is the worst form of bullying


  • Bullying appears to be a vicious cycle, as 38 percent of respondents who have been bullied have also bullied someone else; 86 percent of respondents who consider themselves to be bullies have also been victims of bullying


  • More than half (51 percent) of self-proclaimed bullies have witnessed at least one of their parents involved in bullying, compared to only 30 percent of those who say they have not bullied anyone
    • 52 percent of self-proclaimed bullies believe bullies are imitating their parents


  • There appears to be a disconnect in teen bullying, as 69 percent of teens say they do not bully others, yet more than 30 percent engage in behaviors deemed as bullying, such as gossiping, name-calling and teasing


  • While 90 percent of respondents say physically harming someone is considered bullying, only 17 percent of those hurt by bullies say it is physical. Rather, the most common form of bullying is name-calling (47 percent) or being gossiped about (also 47 percent)


  • Nearly three quarters (69 percent) of respondents say the impact of bullying lasts a lifetime, while 27 percent believe the effects of bullying eventually wear off
    • Only 3 percent of respondents believe there is no impact from bullying


  • While 62 percent of respondents talk to their parents regularly about important issues, only 50 percent have talked to their parents about bullying
    • 61 percent of those teens said they felt better after talking to their parents


  • After hearing about others’ experiences overcoming bullying, 73 percent of teens believe bullying has the potential to be stopped


“These findings show that young women clearly understand that actions such as name-calling and spreading rumors can cause significant pain, but many do not believe their personal involvement in these behaviors can hurt others,” said Courtney Knowles, Director, Love is Louder. “Working with Harlequin TEEN has the potential to create real change because Love is Louder focuses on using the power of words and actions to help instead of hurt.”


*About the Harlequin Teen and Love is Louder survey

The 2012 Harlequin Teen Love is Louder survey was conducted online in August/September among 1,504 females between 16 and 21. There were 734 responses from 16 to18 year olds, and 770 responses from women between 19 and 21. Of the total survey, 1,104 participants considered themselves straight and 255 said they were not straight. The overall margin of error is +/- 2.5 percent.


Book availability

Speechless, by Hannah Harrington, is now available in print and digital formats from Harlequin Teen for $9.99 in the U.S. and $11.99 in Canada. Harrington’s previous book, Saving June, was a gold medal winner in the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction. Click here for podcast with HarringtonThis novel is about a character named Chelsea Knot, the school’s biggest gossip and member of the in-crowd, who watches as her words become the catalyst for a hate crime. Appalled, Chelsea decides to rat out her “friends,” and to atone for her part takes a vow of silence.


About Harlequin

Harlequin is one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, with titles issued worldwide in 31 languages and sold in 111 international markets. The company publishes more than 110 titles monthly and more than 1,200 authors from around the world. Harlequin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s website is located at Harlequin has offices in 19 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information, please visit


About The Jed Foundation’s Love is Louder Movement

Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among teenagers and college students, MTV and Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. Even as we work to stop negative words and actions that hurt us, we can strengthen our abilities to cope with hard times, focus on the positive, support the people around us and reach out for help if we need it.