The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — known as UNESCO — released its global status report on School Violence and Bullying today. It found that about 246 million kids experience bullying in some form every year. It effects kids in all countries. This estimate is based on a poll of 100,000 young people in 18 countries.
Some things might not surprise you:
- Students who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identifying were three to five times more likely to be bullied. In the U.S. 82 percent of LBGT students ages 13-20 reported being verbally harassed in the past year.
- Girls are more likely than boys to report bullying, but 30 percent of all kids tell no one.
- Cyber bullying is a growing problem. Between 5 percent and 21 percent of kids are affected and it happens to girls more than boys.
- Boys are more likely to engage in physical violence.
- Physical violence is less common than bullying in industrialized countries.
- Bullies attack disabilities, gender, poverty or social status, ethnic or cultural differences, physical appearance and sexual orientation and gender identities. Those things were pretty evenly divided.
Why should we care? The report tells us the impact:
- Students who are bullied suffer physical effects: stomach pains, headaches, difficulty eating and sleep.
- They become depressed, lonely or anxious, have low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
- They miss classes or drop out.
- One study found that kids who are bullied have lower test scores (probably because they missed a lot of classes or were depressed or anxious.)
What should we be doing about it? The study recommends:
- Taking actions to change the culture of schools by taking a strong stance on violence.
- Creating schools that have strong leadership.
- Creating schools that are inclusive.
- Providing provided training and education about bullying for students and teachers.
- Providing effective, child-friendly ways to report bullying and follow up support.
- Collecting data about bullying.
- Creating national laws and policies that are enforced.
- Offering national programs that raise awareness.
- Getting student involvement in planning and implementing interventions.
In the U.S. we don’t have one single federal anti-bullying law, though we do have laws about hate crimes.
In Texas, the Texas Education Code has several provisions on what to do with a student who is being bullied, including moving them to another class, as well as a student code of conduct, a provision for staff training.
There are new anti-bullying bills being proposed this session:
House Bill 306 and Senate Bill 179 known as David’s Law would cover cyber bullying even if it happens not on school property and not during the school day, establishes a way to report bullying and ensures that parents be notified within one day of the offense, and allows for the suspension of the bully if he or she has caused a child to want to commit or attempt suicide, has incited violence through group bullying or has released intimate visuals of a person.