Responding to numerous calls from parents of children being bullied at school, Michigan law firm Buckfire and Buckfire created the infographic below, detailing some shocking bullying statistics in the United States. For example, 280,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools. Every month.
Consider the implications of this statement. First, there are serious psychological consequences for all students – bully, target, and bystander – in the climate of fear created in threatening, poorly-protected environments. Second, there is a proven connection between lowered student performance in schools with the most bullying – the more bullying, the lower the test scores (“The Impact of Bullying Climate on Schoolwide Academic Performance,” A Lacey and D Cornell, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, presented at American Psychological Association Meeting, Aug 2011). This recent research supports the older, frequently-quoted statistic that 160,000 students miss school daily due to fear of bullying.
Here’s another one: Every 7 minutes, a child is bullied on the playground (I think this statistic is low – more like every 7 minutes on every playground in every school). How can this be? How can so many anti-bullying initiatives collectively have had so little impact of the incidence of bullying? Simply put – it’s not about the bullying prevention program.
Bullying prevention is easy and effective if you intervene early – at the first sign that someone is being hurt or excluded. It’s everyone’s responsibility – students, teachers, school administration, parents, & community leaders – to catch bullying at its first appearance and intervene with firmness & kindness – don’t bully the bully! You don’t actually need a program. A simple “Oops. You crossed the line. We don’t treat people that way here.” is all that’s needed. Everyone makes mistakes, but there’s a big difference between the occasional mistake – caught quickly, apologized for, and future behavior changed – and an environment where adults either turn a blind eye until there’s a crisis or go through the motions of bullying prevention but kids know that bullying is tolerated.
In the infographic below, bullying is defined as (1) a 1-way, permanent power differential between bully and target and (2) repeated harmful acts. The power imbalance is always present in bullying, and bullying left unchecked does indeed tend to repeat and escalate. Don’t, however, ignore the single act of bullying. Kids need to know that adults are watching every day. Eventually, when kids understand that there really is a firm “No Bullying” policy at the school, they will internalize this standard, test the boundaries less, and start standing up to protect peers, making it less the adults’ sole responsibility.
What can we all do today? Especially as we head back to school, it’s a great time to open a new chapter. Bring fresh eyes to our homes, schools, and communities, look again and become aware again of the everyday, small building blocks to bullying. Think about how you might help raise awareness and intervene early to reduce this epidemic of bullying. Make every day bullying prevention day!
Share your stories – we love to hear about both your successes and “oops, we learned from this” moments!
Click on the image to view an enlarged version. [Source: Buckfire and Buckfire.com]
Student Bullying in the United States Statisitcs and Facts by Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Note: We loved the infographic, and we’d like to add some info:
- Bullying is typically repeated, but a single event can also be bullying. We shouldn’t ignore it or wait till the whole pattern emerges
- Here’s a small shout out to the grammar police, who told us it should be “bul-ly-ing”