As another school year is about to begin, students and parents are busy gathering supplies, shopping for clothes, and filling out school forms. Unfortunately, there is another sad reality for many when it comes to preparing for a new school year: a discussion about bullying. While bullying can be a sensitive subject to discuss with children, it is an epidemic in our society and negatively affects hundreds of thousands of students in multiple ways each and every year. The Commonwealth of Virginia has officially recognized the seriousness of this problem by specifically defining bullying in § 22.1-276.01 of the Code of Virginia in three parts:
- Unwanted aggressive behavior;
- Real or perceived power imbalance; and
- Repetition or causation of severe emotional trauma.
This definition helps determine whether a particular incident constitutes bullying in the legal sense of the word. Bullying classification and prevention is a relatively new research field that explores the complexities and consequences of bullying. While we have a long way to go in this regard, discussing bullying and its effects allows us to address the problem more effectively. As a starting point for discussion, here are 15 troubling statistics about bullying in America:
- 1 out of 5 students reports being bullied.
- 9 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students report being bullied.
- Children with disabilities are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers.
- 41% of students who reported being bullied indicated that they think it will happen again.
- 1 in 4 teachers sees nothing wrong with bullying.
- 83% of victims feel like bullying has negatively impacted their social lives.
- 30% of victims turned to self-harming behaviors after being bullied.
- 1 in 10 students drops out of school due to repeated bullying. And LGBTQ+ students are twice as likely to report that they were not planning on completing high school or going to college.
- Approximately 160,000 teens per day skip school due to bullying.
- Students who reported that they were frequently bullied scored lower in reading, mathematics, and science than their peers who reported that they were never or rarely bullied.
- 42% percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that the bullying was related to at least one of the following characteristics: physical appearance (30%), race (10%), gender (8%), disability (7%), ethnicity (7%), religion (5%), and sexual orientation (4%).
- 70% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% have witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month, and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
- Barely half of bullying situations (57%) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied. But, students are less likely to report bullying as they get older. Only 39% of high schoolers notified an adult after being bullied.
- 7% of victims have bullied others due to being bullied themselves.
- Over 67% of students think that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
If your child is a victim of bullying, there is no reason to tolerate it or write it off as “kids being kids.” Responding proactively is often the best approach. Contact your child’s school and consider calling the No Bully Help Hotline at 1-866-488-7386. And if you need additional help or would like to discuss possible legal remedies, please contact Eric C. Perkins, Esq. at (804) 205-5162 or [email protected] to discuss your situation. Perkins Law is pleased to offer a flat fee service package to help families respond to these unfortunate situations.
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