*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
In a new study, researchers analyzed the impact of several different types of bullying on the overall school climate in middle and high schools. Their findings, published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, show that bullying, cyberbullying and harassment are significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection and equity for everyone.
“For each form of victimization, school climate measures go down precipitously, so if we only center the conversation about kids who are being bullied that limits it to ‘that’s not my kid,'” said study author Bernice Garnett, S.c.D., associate professor in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont.
“But if we change the conversation to bullying can actually damage the entire school climate, then that motivates and galvanizes the overall will of the school community to do something about it.”
According to the study, 43.1 percent of the students polled had experienced at least one form of victimization during the 2015-2016 school year. Just over 32 percent reported being bullied, 21 percent were victims of cyberbullying, and 16.4 percent experienced harassment — defined as “experiencing negative actions from one or more persons because of his or her skin, religion, where they are from (what country), sex, sexual identity, or disability.”
The findings highlight the need for comprehensive policies that address all forms of victimization to help promote safe and equitable school environments, which are tied to educational outcomes.
“Policies can actually shape the experiences of students in schools,” she said. “This study is trying to show that we need to be thinking about the structural forces that make bullying prevalent among certain groups of kids, which is not a coincidence.”