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NEA calls on states and school districts to step up anti-bullying efforts

Nationwide survey sheds light on school bullying


WASHINGTON - October 12, 2011 -

Bullying is the most common form of violence in our society with one third of students being bullied each month.  It takes place every seven minutes and in every kind of school—rural, suburban and urban schools.  A first-ever, nationwide National Education Association (NEA) survey of teachers and education support professionals about bullying found that school employees see bullying as a serious problem and believe it is their responsibility to stop the bullying, but lack the know-how and training to do so.

“NEA has a long history of working to prevent bullying in schools,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “However, we cannot alone put an end to bullying.  States and school districts need to step up their bullying prevention trainings for all school employees and all individuals who come in contact with students each day.” 

According to NEA research, 98 percent of school employees believe it is their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school.  More than half of those surveyed (62%) indicate they have witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month.  Further, 93 percent of school employees report their district has implemented a bullying prevention policy, but just over half (54%) said they have received training related to the policy. 

“It’s important to dispel the myth that bullying is just part of growing up,” said Van Roekel. “School employees require the proper training in research-proven bullying prevention measures so students come to school ready and eager to learn.”  

As part of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, NEA is planning a series of activities to raise awareness of anti-bullying efforts:

  • Asking educators to take “NEA’s Bully Free:  It Starts With Me” pledge.
  • Encouraging bloggers nationwide to take part in NEA’s “BullyFree:  It Starts With Me” Blog-a-Thon.
  • Bullying prevention ideas and stories will be featured on NEA’s www.nea.org/bullyfree and www.edvoices.com websites throughout the month.
  • Profiling exceptional educators who have taken effective actions to prevent bullying on www.nea.org/neabullyfree and www.classroomsuperheroes.com 
  • Announcing the results of a comprehensive survey on the impact and role school bus drivers have on bullying. Bus Drivers and Bullying Prevention is based on NEA’s Nationwide Study of Bullying, which surveyed 470 bus drivers among the 2,900 education support professionals (ESPs) in the study. The brief can be found at www.nea.org/neabullyfree

Earlier this year, NEA launched “Bully Free: It Starts With Me,” a national anti-bullying campaign designed to engage adults in helping bullied students.  The campaign provides a variety of tools and resources for educators to provide solace and support to bullied students and to take the appropriate actions to stop bullying.  NEA also 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.

Highlights of NEA’s survey on bullying in schools: 

Bullying in Schools 

  • Verbal bullying (58%) is the most common form of bullying in schools, followed by social/relational (50%), physical (39%), and cyber bullying (17%).
  • Teachers and support professionals report that bullying based on a student’s weight (23%), gender (20%), perceived sexual orientation (18%) or disability (12%) were of concern in their school.
  • Bullying is perceived to be a moderate or major problem at their school by 43 percent of school employees. More than half of school employees (62%) indicate they witness bullying two or more times a month; 41 percent indicate witnessing bullying once a week or more.

Role of School Employees in Bullying Prevention

  • Ninety-eight (98%) percent of school employees believe it is their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school.
  • Ninety-three (93%) percent report that their school district has a bullying prevention policy, yet 54 percent say they have received training on the policy.
  • Sixty-one (61%) percent of educators surveyed said they would benefit from additional training to help them better understand when and how to intervene in bullying situations related to perceived sexual orientation or gender nonconformity issues.
  • Seventy-four (74%) percent say they could benefit from training on when and how to intervene in cyber bullying incidents.
  • Educators who felt more connected to their school were more likely to report feeling comfortable intervening in all forms of bullying.  They were also more likely to report being comfortable intervening in several different types of bullying situations.

Bullying on the Bus

  • Half of all bus drivers witness bullying several times a month, but 44 percent have not received training on how to intervene and prevent bullying.  
  • Bus drivers are 36 percent more likely to hear reports of bullying from students and parents than other education support professionals.  
  • Bus drivers should be more involved in bullying prevention.  Only 23 percent of bus drivers are involved in bullying prevention efforts at their school.

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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: Christiana Campos  (202) 822-7823, ccampos@nea.org