Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Half our kids admit to bullying—the worse part

A huge study came out yesterday, with dismal findings on bullying.

The report statement begins:
 According to a new study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (the largest ever undertaken of the attitudes and conduct of high school students), half of all high school students (50 percent) admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half (47 percent) say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. The study reports the responses from 43,321 high school students. The margin of error is less than 1%.

You can read the actual results in a PDF. (It's a simple format.)

Unfortunately, the numbers are not a shock to people who have been studying the problem. It's been a huge problem, and it's remaining a huge problem.

The more troubling part is that we can't seem to figure out what to do about it. (The numbers show a slight improvement from 2008, but we have not gotten very far.)

Despite the dearth of evidence that Columbine was related to bullying, most of the public thought it was. That led to huge campaigns to combat the problem.

I always so that as sort of the wonderful upside to a huge mistake. We shouldn't address bullying because we thought it provoked two killers, we should address it because it's terrible.

Regardless, we addressed it.

Eleven years later, ouch.

I'm frustrated. I'm not an expert on bullying. I have not studied anti-bullying campaigns, to ascertain which ones really work. Clearly, many are failing.

So who has? What's actually working out there?


  1. There never will be a solid answer to the bullying epidemic. There will always be bullies no matter which way we turn. It's sad people feel the need to kill others or themselves in order to escape the pain, torment, and anguish.

  2. Education, education, education.

    It's all about peer pressure which is very hard to fight, or even to tackle.

    Embrace the differences is what I've tried to show my flock, see how different may equal interesting, how standing out from the crowd takes courage, may be applauded.

    Another way to help prevent one's children from succumbing to peer pressure may be installing self-confidence in them from the earliest age onwards, starting with positive confirmation, stressing the positive in their actions instead of dwelling on the negative (as my parent's generation tended to do).

    Just some random thoughts. Of course I'm oversimplifying things, but one has to start somewhere, what better place than one's own home, the basis?

  3. ugh I just don't see how you missed that bullying WAS involved in Columbine.

  4. I'm with you, Mark. I can't accept the hopelessness of the first reply. Of course we can never solve it 100%, but I don't think that means we should throw up our hands.

    AsLovers, I don't want to refight that whole bit, but the killers also seemed to "miss" it when they forgot to mention it in their journals. For starters.

  5. Education, involvement, follow through. . .
    We've started educating children as soon as they enter Elementary School about bullying, but then it seems to fall to the wayside the second they enter middle school, and then in high school it is often ignored. I don't think there is an easy solution, but we definitely need to continue the education all the way though high school. As parents, coaches and teachers, we need to be more involved in what the students are doing inside and outside of school. Keep the line of communication open for those who need our support and don't know where else to turn and may be afraid to speak up when they are bullied. Make strict anti-bullying rules and then follow through with them when they are broken, instead of turning the other cheek. I don't know if I can say what will work, but clearly what we are doing now, isn't working. And as long as coaches, teachers, principals, parents, etc., allow the bullying to happen, it will continue.

  6. Barbarism Begins At Home, as in the song by The Smiths...

  7. I refuse to argue because it's pointless but I think that eric saying "This is for all the shit you put us through" while in the library is telling. And he DOES mention it in his journal when he says something to the effect of "oh yeah don't let that geeky eric kid come hang out with you". Forgive me, I forget the actual line. They were VERY different from other kids. It's not a stretch to think they were bullied

  8. AsLovers, you begin with "I refuse to argue because it's pointless but. . ."

    Given what follows, is that really an accurate statement? I'm puzzled by posts that begin by contradicting what follows.

    Eric said all sorts of things. Cherry-picking individual lines is dangerous. He was extremely consistent in his main themes, and that was sure not one of them. In thousands of words, yes, you can find outliers and contradictions. Every kid complains sometimes. That's slim evidence to build a personality around, or a motive.

    The line you paraphrase sounds like a complaint of people (supposedly) being unkind, but hardly bullying.

    "t's not a stretch to think they were bullied"? No, it's not. It's entirely plausible. But I don't think it would be responsible to write about things that might have been that lack evidence to support them.

    I could not find any significant evidence that they felt bullied, much less that it played a role. I have seen none presented.