School Bullying By The Numbers

By on October 3, 2012

The New Jersey Department of Education has released its first report on the expanded anti-bullying law enacted in the wake of the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi.

According to the report, “Violence, Vandalism And Substance Abuse In New Jersey Schools“, there were 12,024 confirmed cases of bullying statewide. When an incident of bullying is reported to school authorities, it is recorded as a “suspected” case and the school is required to investigate and confirm the incident within 10 days. There were 35,552 suspected cases of bullying statewide. And heavy kids appear to have caught the worst of it: Of the confirmed cases, more than 60% were related to a physical characteristic, such as weight. Only 11% involved a student’s perceived sexual orientation.

Verona had 13 confirmed cases of bullying, according to the state report. Cedar Grove reported 8, Caldwell-West Caldwell had 3, Montclair 4 and West Orange had 53. Glen Ridge, a school system that Verona often uses as an academic benchmark, had 12. Suspected cases are not broken out by district in the report. Elizabeth and Woodbridge tied for the most confirmed bullying cases, at 177.

The report says that, statewide, bullying is concentrated in the middle schools. (Scott Chesney did a strong presentation on ways to combat bullying at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School last Friday.) Of the 13,101 students who committed acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying, 22.9% were in grades 5-6 and 29.6% in grades 7-8. But the report notes that fifth and sixth graders account for just 15.4% of all enrolled students, while seventh and eighth graders account for 15.6%.

There are other anomalies as well. Remember that, in the 2011-2012 school year, there were 1,351,028 million students enrolled in 675 New Jersey school districts. With those numbers, the 12,024 confirmed cases of bullying would mean one for every 112 students. But 124 of the school systems listed in the document report no confirmed cases of bullying–zero.

Something for the bullying task force appointed by Gov. Christie to consider.


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