CDC Study Shows Need for Bullying Prevention
By Paul Guequierre
April 22nd, 2011 at 1:08 pm
The following post is edited from HRC Foundation Welcoming Schools Director, Kim Westheimer:
A study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 27% of middle school students and 16% of high school students in Massachusetts have been bullied. The study shows an association between bullying and poor grades, suicidal ideation, self-injury, and witnessing violence in the home. This type of survey can inform school officials and policy makers about the general scope of the problem of bullying. But there are a few missing pieces.
When population based surveys ask students whether bullying is related to their identity – whether it be sexual orientation, gender, race, or country of origin – policy makers and schools can gain valuable information about the interventions needed to educate students and affect attitudes that often fuel harassment. For example, a survey used by the King County, Washington Department of Public Health asks students if they were harassed in relation to their sexual orientation, race, or gender. This survey showed that half of high school students were harassed based on race/ethnicity, gender or perceived sexual orientation. This information can help policy makers and educators design laws, policies and curriculum that address inclusion and respect for all people: policies that enumerate protected categories such as sexual orientation, race, and gender and curriculum that fosters respect for people from diverse races, cultures, and sexual orientations.
Bullying that is reported in middle and high school doesn’t just start in 6thgrade. We must provide students with tools to avoid and stand up to bullying in early grades to forestall destructive behaviors in middle and high school. We have enough data and information to know that bias-based bullying has severe consequences. Any school district or state that doesn’t directly address this problem could arguably be considered guilty of neglect.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Program provides LGBT inclusive bullying prevention resources for elementary school educators, administrators and parents. For more information go to www.welcomingschools.org.