Students Are Most Likely to Be Bullied If They Live in These States
Hollywood movies would have us believe that bullying often resembles a group of popular, athletic boys shoving nerdy classmates against lockers in school hallways—or girls trashing their peers in a Mean Girls–style “burn book.” In reality, bullying takes many forms, including name-calling, physical violence, and anonymous verbal abuse typed from behind the safety of a computer screen—and the problem is worse in some states than others.
That’s the finding of an analysis of bullying data by Washington, D.C.–based website WalletHub. It crunched data from 45 states and the District of Columbia along 17 metrics that fell into three categories: bullying prevalence, bullying impact and treatment, and prevalence of anti-bullying laws. (Because of data limitations, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington were excluded from the analysis.)
Thanks to its high percentage of high school students being bullied online and on school property, Michigan was found to be the state with the biggest overall bullying problem in the nation. Louisiana, West Virginia, Montana, and Arkansas rounded out the top five.
The state where students are least likely to experience any form of bullying is Massachusetts, followed by North Carolina, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Rhode Island. The analysis found that high school students are three times more likely to be involved in a physical fight at school if they live in Washington, D.C., than if they reside in Massachusetts, which experiences the fewest physical fights on campus.
“Any child can become a victim of bullying, but research suggests that the most likely contributing factor is reactivity,” Rona Milch Novick, dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University, said in a statement about the analysis. “In other words, children who will provide the bully with evidence of their ‘power’ by crying, appearing upset, etc., are more likely to be frequently victimized. Also at greater risk are shy and anxious children, children who are overweight, and children who are seen as LGBTQ or gender non-conforming. Children who are alone are significantly more likely to be victimized, so developing friendships can be an important preventative factor.”
More than 3.2 million students are victims of bullying every year. About 160,000 kids skip school to avoid it, and one in 10 students will drop out of school after repeated bullying.
Along with harming students, high rates of bullying affect the financial bottom line of school districts. The analysis found that districts in California, New York, and Texas pay 87 times more for truancy costs because of bullying than do those in Maine.
Novick said bullying prevention requires the combined efforts of parents, teachers, administrators, and state and local governments.
“Requiring schools to have a coordinator or a single training for faculty or a workshop for students is insufficient,” she said. “They need an investment of resources, both people and funds, in order to provide the type of programming that has been shown to be effective.”
To see how the states rank, click on the graphic below.