With schools returning to in-person learning this fall and a child experiencing bullying every seven minutes, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2021’s States with the Biggest Bullying Problems.
To identify the states where bullying is most pervasive, WalletHub compared 47 states and the District of Columbia across 20 key metrics, ranging from “bullying-incident rate” to “truancy costs for schools” to “share of high school students bullied online.”
Bullying Prevalence & Prevention in California (1=Biggest, 24=Avg.):
- 4th – % of High School Students Bullied on School Property
- 27th – % of High School Students Bullied Online
- 1st – % of High School Students Involved in Physical Fight at School
- 12th – % of High School Students Who Missed School for Fear of Being Bullied
- 26th – % of High School Students Who Attempted Suicide
- 1st – Cost of Truancy for Schools Due to Bullying
- 9th – State Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies
- 2nd – State Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Requiring School Policy
Some experts weighed in on the topic and gave input
What are the main factors that put a child at risk of being bullied?
“Children may be at risk of being bullied if they have a perceived weakness or vulnerability; if they are perceived as being different from the “norm” in some way (e.g., appearance, age, disability, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression). Children with difficulties with social skills may be more at risk for being bullied, including difficulties with emotion management (e.g., having big reactions to others or situations). Unfortunately, children with disabilities are more likely to be bullied than children without disabilities. Mental health challenges (e.g., anxiety, depression) may also place a child at higher risk of being bullied.”
Stephanie S. Fredrick, Ph.D., NCSP – Associate Director, Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention
“Victims can display diverse profiles, and victimization is not necessarily stable across time or social context. Still, there are commonly identified factors that put youth at greater risk of being bullied. Some victims behave in a submissive and passive fashion whereas others behave aggressively and provocatively, but both groups may have difficulty regulating emotion. Difficulty controlling strong emotional responses, such as sadness and anger, may make some children seem like easy targets to bullies who may also crave the peer attention elicited when victims cry or fight back. In terms of social risk factors, victims are often marginalized by the peer group and lack social power, and as such may be socially isolated with few friends.”
Lisa H. Rosen, Ph.D. – Associate Professor; Texas Woman’s University
What kinds of programs should state, and local governments develop to prevent bullying?
“Right now- bullying at the K-12 level is prohibited in all 50 states. Therefore, state and local governments can host town halls to explain this to parents, students, teachers, and administration. Also note, students can also participate in creating programs or projects to shine a light on bullying. The most successful programs come when students engage and bring along their parents to help police their environment. Student-led programs (with a mentor or advisor) are wonderful for middle grades and high school grades,” said Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D., associate professor, Morgan State University.
“School-based interventions may be most effective…Successful programs tend to share key features, including a whole school approach that focuses beyond students and include staff across the campus, such as teachers, coaches, bus drivers, nurses, counselors, and administrators, working together to change school culture to deter bullying. In addition, successful programs tend to operate on multiple levels to include tailored interventions for victims and bullies as well as universal components that address the entire student body to focus on issues such as bystander intervention and prosocial routes to popularity. Importantly, programs should be of adequate duration and intensity…Governmental support of high-quality anti-bullying programs can help protect victimized youth,” said Lisa H. Rosen, Ph.D., associate professor, Texas Woman’s University.
How can parents protect their children against cyberbullying in our socially connected society?
“Fostering open communication with the discussion of technology and risks has been associated with a lower level of cyber victimization. In addition to the discussion, non-intrusive monitoring serves a protective role. Interestingly, research is just beginning to explore how parents connect with their children on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram. Initial findings suggest that ‘friending’ and ‘following’ children may be protective and allow parents the opportunity to monitor their children’s online activities. In the event the children are cyberbullied, parents can offer support and help document the behavior,”
“Parents should try to be available to talk with their children as early as possible about appropriate digital behavior and appropriate content. As soon as we begin having conversations around safety with our children (e.g., we lock our doors when we leave the house, etc.) we should also talk about being safe and respectful online. There are so many positive aspects of technology use, but information shared online can also be used in harmful ways. Parents should make sure that their child knows only to communicate things online that they would be okay with their parents or even their grandparents seeing. Even if their child thinks that they are deleting information, it can always be recovered. And they should never share their passwords, even with friends.”
said Stephanie S. Fredrick, Ph.D., NCSP, associate director, Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention.
For the full report, please visit here.