Education Vital Signs: Bullying
It’s a sad truth for schools: where there are large numbers of students, there are power differences. And where there are differences in power, there is the potential for bullying. But how prevalent this behavior becomes -- or whether it is allowed to occur at all -- depends on the awareness and resolve of board members who set anti-bullying policies; principals, who administer those policies; teachers who pay attention to the social dynamics of their students; and any other adult who comes in contact with young people. Bullying has always been around, but technology has added a new dimension to the problem. Hateful words and videos can be posted. Harmful gossip can be easily distributed. Of particular concern is the impact of bullying directed against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students, reports of which are on the rise.
As with so many serious problems, accountability starts at the top -- with board members and administrators who take bullying seriously and work to provide safe environments for all students.
New Technology and Youth Violence
Status Struggles, a survey of North Carolina eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-graders, finds that it is popular students—not social outcasts—who tend to be most aggressive towards other students. Students in the top 98th percentile of their school’s social hierarchy have an aggression rate 28 percent higher than students at the bottom of the hierarchy, and 40 percent higher than students at the very top of the hierarchy. Students in the top two percent of their hierarchy and those at the very bottom were the least aggressive.
Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that 9 percent to 35 percent of young people report being victims of electronic aggression. Some occurrences of this type of violence happen while students are at school, or more frequently, during out of school hours.