Survey says nearly half of all students have been bullied in last year
By Melissa Evans, Staff Writer | LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/dBNohB
In this Sept. 9 photo, the grave of Mentor High School student Eric Mohat, who committed suicide in 2007, is seen at the mausoleum of the Western Reserve Memorial Gardens in Chesterland, Ohio. Mohat was one of five Mentor High School teenagers who died within two and a half years. Four committed suicide. The fifth died of what her parents say was an accidental prescription drug overdose. Friends and family say bullying drove most of them to kill themselves. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
28 October 2010 - Nearly half of the nation's high school students say they have been bullied in the last year and an equal number say they they taunted or teased a classmate, according to a new survey.
The survey of more than 43,000 high school students by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Westchester comes on the heels of recent suicides by teens relentlessly tormented by bullies.
The institute found that 47 percent of respondents said they had been harassed in a way that was seriously upsetting, and half admitted to bullying a classmate. Nearly a quarter of students said they do not feel safe at school.
from THE josephson Institute of Ethics |http://josephsoninstitute.org/
Results from a survey of over 40,000 high school students reveal high rates of at-risk behavior.
"This is a real problem," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the nonprofit institute, which runs school-based character-building programs. "The numbers are pretty disturbing."
The survey is considered an accurate bellwether of beliefs among young people. The respondents included teens from different age groups, geographic regions, academic levels and socioeconomic groups. The margin of error is less than 1 percentage point.
Conducted since 1992, the survey included questions about bullying for the first time this year. Though kids have always bullied, Josephson said it appears the growing popularity of online social networking and the Internet in general has given bullies a powerful new tool to cause harm.
"At least before you could change your school, or your environment," he said. "That doesn't work anymore.
Now you cannot escape it, and the chances of this causing deep scars and deep depression are really increasing."
A recent spate of suicides among teenagers subjected to bullying - including Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who was videotaped having a sexual encounter with a man, then jumped off a bridge after the video was posted online - provide anecdotal evidence of this trend.
A number of politicians, including President Barack Obama, have spoken out on the issue in recent days. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education sent out letters to schools, colleges and universities reminding them of their federal obligations to protect students.
At Los Angeles Unified, bullying is defined as "the deliberate antagonistic action or creation of a situation with the intent of inflicting emotional, physical, or psychological distress."
According to district policy, bullying can also include cyber-bullying, and recenty officials have taken special actions to target the bullying of gay students who report being harassed at higher rates than their heterosexual peers.
"Bullying is a serious issue and it's one that students are very concerned with, they talk to me about it all the time when I meet with them," Superintendent Ramon Cortines.
"I am telling all my teachers and principals to talk to their students and parents when these issues arise," he said. "I don't want them to just say these things just happen."
Cortines addressed bullying in this week's "On the Record," which airs via KLCS-TV, the LAUSD's Education Station. It will be repeated at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Josephson said parents should talk to their kids regularly, and be proactive in reporting harassment to school officials and, in some cases, to the parents of bullies. Schools, meanwhile, need to be innovative in the way they approach bullying, they said.
"We have to create much more positive environments, pro-respect environments, not just anti-bullying environments," Josephson said.
He added that children also need to be more resilient in the face of bullying, because "we're not going to be able to shield from name-calling. We need to fortify our young people to deal with that, and not take it so personally."
Staff Writer Connie Llanos contributed to this report.