- Despite concerns raised during the 2016 election season about the impact of negative campaign rhetoric on students, the overall rate of bullying and cyberbullying among high school students was 19% in 2017 compared with 20.2% in 2015, according to a Child Trends blog.
- The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report, released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that nationwide, reports of bullying and cyberbullying have declined in all almost all categories since 2015, though the declines are slight and considered statistically static.
- However, the report notes that roughly one in five high school students is still experiencing bullying at school, and that high school students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are almost three times as likely to report being bullied.
While the concerns touted in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report, “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools,” do not seem to have translated into hard data regarding bullying, the rhetoric that is being expressed in the current climate on both sides of the political aisle offers schools ample opportunity for teachable moments. The need for teaching civil discourse is greater now more than ever before.
Schools have been working hard to battle the problem of bullying and cyberbullying in a number of ways. The expansion of social-emotional learning programs has likely had some effect in engaging students in the process of identifying bullying and reducing the number of incidents. As professional development concerning social-emotional learning increases, schools may see an even greater impact on the bullying issue. New technology now allows students to report such incidents in a safer and more effective manner, and last week, before the Federal Commission on School Safety, Sameer Hinduja, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University and the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said student-led anti-bullying initiatives are likely to be far more successful than adults' efforts.
Since school safety and climate is a major factor affecting school choice and since bullying affects school attendance (and therefore, test scores), administrators have a vested interest in reducing bullying at school. The development of cyberbullying policies and the implementation of strategies to reduce bullying can help create an environment where students feel safe and can focus on learning.