Report highlights baseline bullying data and recommendations for future of bullying prevention
The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR), in partnership with Child Trends, issued the Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program’s second report on the state of bullying in District public and public charter schools during the 2015-2016 school year. Since 2013, the OHR program has worked with over 60 local education agencies (LEA) to develop policies, resources, and training mechanisms that encourage and equip schools in preventing and effectively addressing incidents of bullying. In school year 2015-16, comprehensive data was collected across the District public and public charter schools systems for the first time, with an overall reported 499 incidents of bullying, a rate of less than 1 percent.
“DC is one of the very few jurisdictions that takes a public health approach to bullying and prioritizes prevention by changing school climate and more effectively supporting at-risk youth” said OHR Director Monica Palacio. “We are proud of our work as a city towards creating an environment where educators, parents, and families can all work together to ensure our students can fearlessly thrive.”
According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the District has one of the lowest reported rates of bullying for middle and high school students in the country: 31 percent of middle school students and 12 percent of high school students reported as being bullied in 2015. However, school-reported incident data provided in the report paints a significantly different picture of the prevalence of bullying in the city over the past school year.
“It is clear that there is a difference between what students experience and what adults know about and record,” said Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Director Suzanne Greenfield. “As we move forward, we hope to reconcile this gap and focus more on ensuring schools have an even better understand of bullying and it’s symptoms as well as how to provide the right resources and support necessary for students to feel safe every day.”
Other recommendations highlighted in the report include helping schools implement supportive disciplinary practices and warn educators of the consequences of overreliance on exclusionary discipline for bullying incidents, as well as the encouraged use of evidence-based prevention approaches that are integrated within schools’ broader initiatives and behavioral frameworks.
For detailed assessment information by educational institution and to download the report, visit ohr.dc.gov/page/bullyingprevention. The Know Your Policy web portal is also available at ohr.dc.gov/page/knowyourpolicy.