Bullying Prevention Month: Bullying in Public Schools in America

October is bully prevention month and with that, YouthTruth, a national nonprofit that surveys students who deal with bullying, have come out with a new report. “Students who are bullied often fail to report it out of fear of becoming a greater target, or because they may be uncomfortable coming forward.” Because of this many parents, school leaders, etc. may not know what is actually happening to their children and students. Through an anonymous survey, YouthTruth works to bring these statistics to light, so that the public can be made aware of how vast a problem bullying can be. YouthTruth looked at 80,000 public school students across the United States from grades five through twelve.

The report by YouthTruth shows that one in four students are being bullied in public schools in the United States. Unlike popular beliefs, bullying still happens mostly in person, rather than online. The findings did find that if you are being cyberbullied, more often than not, you are being bullied in person as well. With bullying, students who were surveyed believe they are being bullied due to “their appearance, their race or skin color, and because other students thought they were gay.”

There are four types of ways to be bullied: verbal harassment, social harassment, physical bullying, and cyberbullying. Verbal harassment is the most common at 79%, social harassment makes up 50%, physical bullying is at 29%, and cyberbullying is at the bottom at 25%. As stated before, if a student is being cyberbullied, they are also experiencing bullying in person. Of the students who reported that they were being cyberbullied, 74% said they experienced verbal harassment, 68% reported social harrasment, and 38% report physical harassment. These numbers go to show that cyberbullying is not a lone crime, students are being bullying from multiple facets.

As mentioned previously, appearance, race/skin color, and being gay are the top three report reasons students believe they are being bullied. Of course, these are not the only reasons that were found. Students reported being bullied for how much money their parents have (12%), religion (9%), where their family is from (9%), gender (8%), and disabilities (7%). All of these reason are not new to parents and educators, but they are alarming.

After reading this report, it brings to mind what can the library do for youths and teens? Spreading awareness about where to seek help is a great way for any library to reach out to the community. The library is often seen as a safe, neutral place, and youths and teens may be more willing to find information about seeking assistance. Another great reason the library is a perfect place to teach the community about bully prevention is because the library can be a very diverse place. People from all walks of life visit the library to assist their needs. Library staff are open to helping anyone and everyone, and being in a diverse area may be more comfortable for youths and teens. Bully Prevention Display

Along with having information at hands for youths and teens, libraries can also make helpful displays to show youths and teens that they are not alone if they are being bullied. A display can also show reason why bullying is wrong, and may present other youths and teens in the community from being bullies. The library can be a neutral place to shed light on a topic that affects many people in the community. The library has always been a place that accepts everyone, and displaying information and books about preventions is key.

From a teen department perspective, there are many great books to share with teens in the community. Some favorite titles from my teen department include: The Skin I’m In, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, and Butter.

What resources do you share with your community about bullying?

About Maeve Dodds

Maeve is a Teen Lead Librarian for Charlotte Mecklenburg County, University City Branch, in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has worked in adult and children services, and was previously an elementary school media specialist. She likes reading in her hammock and trying new foods.

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