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NEA survey: school staffs need more help to prevent bullying

Report released at White House Conference on Bullying Prevention


WASHINGTON - March 10, 2011 -

A new survey on bullying by the National Education Association (NEA) finds that school employees know bullying is pervasive in schools and that they believe it’s their job to intervene—but that they need more training to do so effectively. The NEA Bullying Survey was released today at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, where individuals from across the nation gathered to address this issue—those who have been affected by bullying as well as those who are actively working to address it.

“To our knowledge, this study is the only large-scale nationwide study that has been fielded to examine different staff members’ perspectives on bullying intervention and prevention,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “Our members know that bullying is a significant problem, and teachers and education support professionals need and want more training to address it. Findings of this study will inform the creation of professional development and training materials tailored for different school staff. “

“Bullying robs students of the opportunity to learn. The administration is to be commended for convening this conference to address the growing problem of bullying,” Van Roekel added.

Key findings of the NEA survey show:

  • 62 percent of school employees report they have witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month 
  • 98 percent believe it is their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school 
  • 46 percent of school employees—teachers and education support professionals alike—say they have not received training on their district’s bullying policy 
  • 61 percent say they would benefit from additional training on when and how to intervene in bullying situations when they are related to perceived sexual orientation or gender nonconformity issues 
  • 74 percent say they could benefit from training on when and how to intervene with cyberbullying

The survey also found that education support professionals are just as likely as teachers to witness bullying, and they are just as committed to solving the problem. Also, results indicate that bullying is a problem in every kind of school setting—rural, suburban and urban schools.

Survey responses were received from more than 5,000 teachers and education support professionals. The survey of student-to-student bullying, conducted in the spring of 2010, was extensive, covering such topics as members’ knowledge, needs, and experiences with various types of bullying, and experiences with bullying of special populations, for example, GLBT, religious groups, etc. NEA collaborated with Catherine Bradshaw, associate director of Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, on the survey.

“Bullying is serious, it can come in many forms, and it always hurts,” added Van Roekel. “Bullying affects one-third of our students nationally on a weekly basis. We know that one caring adult can make a world of difference to a bullied child. One caring adult, who takes the time to listen, who steps in when they see or hear bullying, can change a child’s life. Teachers, counselors and all school employees are united in tackling this problem. Our students are counting on us.”

Last week NEA announced a new initiative, “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me,” a national campaign to engage adults in helping bullied students.  Van Roekel said NEA is encouraging educators to take  “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me” pledge to take whatever steps necessary to make sure that all of our students are safe and ready and able to learn.

Information on "NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign, as well as resources and training information, can be found at www.nea.org/bullyfree. Adults who pledge to help bullied students will make themselves known as individuals who will listen carefully to the student who comes to them with a concern about bullying. They will also agree to take action to stop the bullying. NEA, for its part, promises to provide those caring adults with the tools and resources they need to provide solace and support for the bullied student, to ask the right questions, and to take the appropriate actions to stop the bullying.

NEA offers training programs to help teachers and education support professionals deal with student-on-student bullying and sexual harassment. The National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) is also active in preventing and responding to school violence as it results from bullying, both in person and online. NEA HIN, in partnership with Sprint, offers bNetS@vvy (www.bnetsavvy.org), a resource for families and educators who want to help kids connect smartly and safely on the Internet. In addition, the NEA School Crisis Guide (www.neahin.org/crisisguide) offers tools and resources to help schools prepare for, react to, and respond to a school crisis.

“It is up to all of us to ensure that every child realizes his or her own potential and this means that bullying and harassment cannot be accepted,” said Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “We commend the National Education Association for their efforts in this area and we encourage others to join forces to ensure that children have access to caring adults — and that adults have the resources they need to stop bullying and harassment once and for all.” The Alliance, founded in 1997 with General Colin Powell as chairman, is a cross-sector partnership of more than 400 corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups that are passionate about improving lives and changing outcomes for children.

Van Roekel encourages parents to take notice of their children's behavior, appearance and mood, both for signs of a child being bullied or one who may be engaging in bullying behavior.  “We need to continue to foster the active involvement of teachers, administrators, education support professionals, parents and the larger community in a whole school initiative to eliminate bullying and harassment. It is our shared responsibility to make sure that every child feels safe at school. Working together, we can make our nation’s public schools bully free,” he said.

For more information on “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me”: www.nea.org/bullyfree
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org