Bullying in Our Schools
The family of an 11-year-old child bullied with racial slurs last year recently filed a lawsuit seeking $6 million in damages from Saranac Lake School District in Northern New York. The parents in the suit maintain that district authorities failed on six counts “to protect their child after they were told of the bullying; train and supervise employees; set policy to prevent unconstitutional acts; discipline students and personnel who committed unconstitutional acts; set policy for reporting harassment and bullying incidents; and didn’t protect their daughter after they promised to do so.”
As we all know, the incident in New York is not an isolated one, and that bullying in schools has been on the rise. How bad is it? Each day an estimated 160,000 students in the United States refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers, and the isolation that comes from being the target of rumors and cyber-bullying.
According to the Bureau of Justice School Bullying Statistics and Cyber Bullying Statistics – School Crime and Safety, 46% of males and 26% of females surveyed reported they had been in physical fights because of bullying. Those in the lower grades reported being in twice as many fights as those in the higher grades. Teenagers say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings, with 87% saying that the shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them”, and 86% saying that “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” were the causes of the violence.
Forty-seven states have anti-bullying laws to tackle this growing problem, with New Jersey most recently passing an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that goes further than what has been previously done. New Jersey schools must conduct extensive training of staff and students; appoint safety teams made up of parents, teachers and staff; and launch an investigation of every allegation of bullying within one day.
Schools throughout the country have also addressed this problem with anti-bullying programs. But even districts that have long made anti-bullying programs a priority are preparing to step up their efforts, in response to the greater reporting demands.
This is an issue that affects all of us in the communities we live in and serve. As part of your services to the schools you insure, be sure to review the institution’s risk management plan and programs when it comes to bullying and cyber-bullying.
At CaitlinMorgan, we’re committed to helping our agency partners understand the challenges faced in the industries we serve, such as Education Insurance, Private & Charter Schools, Public Schools, Higher Education, and more.