Written by: Tammie Workman, Educator in Chief of Connect with Kids Network and Consulting Producer of Defining US with Stacey DeWitt, CEO of Connect with Kids Network and Producer/Director of Defining US
October is World Bullying Prevention Month and a good time to revisit the latest school level data.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics 2019 reporting for ages 12-18:
- Middle schoolers reported being bullied more than high school students by approximately 10 percentage points
- Girls reported being bullied more than their male counterparts (25 vs. 19 percent)
- Students who identified as two or more races reported being bullied in school 12 percent higher than White students, 15% higher than Black students, and 24% higher than Asian students.
The Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance as reported in 2019:
- 43% of transgender youth have been bullied on school property, compared to 18% of cisgender youth; transgender youth were more likely in 2019 to have been bullied on school property than reported in 2017
- 29% of gay or lesbian youth and 31% of bisexual youth have been bullied on school property, compared to 17% of straight youth
Health and Human Services’ stopbullying.gov stated the following should be noted for students with disabilities and bullying:
- Children with disabilities—such as physical, developmental, intellectual, emotional, and sensory disabilities—are at an increased risk of being bullied. Any number of factors— physical vulnerability, social skill challenges, or intolerant environments—may increase the risk. Research suggests that some children with disabilities may bully others as well.
- Kids with special health needs, such as epilepsy or food allergies, also may be at higher risk of being bullied. Bullying can include making fun of kids because of their allergies or exposing them to the things they are allergic to. In these cases, bullying is not just serious, it can mean life or death.
And finally, according to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
23% of African American students, 23% of Caucasian students, 16% of Hispanic students, and 7% of Asian students report being bullied at school (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
Given where we are as a country since this reporting – the great divide around race, politics, even whether to vaccinate or not, these statistics will be critical to monitor when reported again. We are hopeful that school supports in place are meeting current student needs as they go through a school year with still so many unknowns and with still so many stressors that surround their daily lives both in and out of school. There is still much work to do.
Even though per NCSE the percentages of students ages 12-18 reporting being bullied trended downward 2009 v 2019 (28% to 22%), we still have almost a quarter of students who experience some type of bullying behavior. And students shouldn’t have to depend on their own resilience to get through, even though, yes, it is a helpful skill to have.
The truth is we have to support all students, both the student doing the bullying and the student who has been bullied. Both need our help.
Resources giving students the social emotional skills and other supports to handle conflict constructively, develop positive relationships, be self-aware (what are the triggers?), practice self-discipline, and have empathy for others through evidence based approaches show effectiveness when implemented well, in areas such as:
- A decrease in physical and verbal aggressive behaviors among students.
- A decrease in the likelihood of students using drugs and alcohol.
- An increase in positive social and emotional behaviors among students.
- Improved communication among students, teachers, and parents.
So, while we recognize bullying prevention month, we also know that with the right support we can “stomp out” bullying and ensure our students attend schools that feel safe, inclusive, and welcoming to all. They deserve no less.