2016’s States with the Biggest Bullying Problems
In the next 7 minutes, a child in the U.S. will be bullied. It may be the son or daughter of someone you know or, worse, it may be your own. Meanwhile, only four in 100 adults will intervene. And only 11 percent of the child’s peers might do the same. The rest — 85 percent — will do nothing.
According to the National Education Association, more than 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied. Bullying takes many forms, ranging from the seemingly innocuous name-calling to the more harmful cyberbullying to severe physical violence. It happens everywhere, at all times to the most vulnerable of kids, especially those who are obese, gay or have a disability.
Besides the physical, emotional and psychological tolls it takes on victims, bullying produces adverse socioeconomic outcomes. The Association for Psychological Science recently found that those who are bullies, victims or both are more likely to experience poverty, academic failure and job termination in their adulthood than those who were neither. In addition, the affected individuals are more likely to commit crime and to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Even our schools take a financial hit from bullying. According to a National Association of Secondary School Principals report, the average public school can incur more than $2.3 million in lost funding and expenses as a result of lower attendance and various types of disciplinary actions.
In light of back-to-school season, WalletHub’s analysts measured the prevalence and prevention of bullying in 45 states and the District of Columbia to help bring awareness to the harmful effects of such pervasive violence not only to America’s young people but also to society as a whole. In order to conduct such a comparison, we examined each state based on 17 key metrics, ranging from “bullying-incident rate” to “truancy costs for schools” to “percentage of high school students bullied online.” Continue reading below for our findings, additional expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.
‘Bullying Prevalence’ Rank
‘Bullying Impact & Environment’ Rank
‘Anti-Bullying Laws’ Rank
|43||District of Columbia||32.31||41||32||35|
*Unfortunately, due to data limitations, the following states were excluded from our analysis: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington.
Bullying can result in many negative consequences not only for the victim but also for the bullies themselves, their parents, their schools and society as a whole. In order to understand the causes of bullying and identify ways to prevent it, we’ve enlisted the help of several experts with extensive knowledge of bullying in doing so. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:
- What are the main factors that put a child at risk of being bullied?
- What are the main factors that contribute to a child becoming a bully?
- How can parents protect their children against cyberbullying in our socially connected society?
- Which is the most cost-efficient method of treating kids who have been bullied?
- Are bullied kids likely to be more or less successful later in life?
- What kinds of programs should state and local governments develop in order to prevent bullying incidents?
- Are schools or parents at risk of any liability should their kids bully others?
In order to identify the states with the biggest bullying problems, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 45 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Bullying Prevalence, 2) Bullying Impact & Treatment and 3) Anti-Bullying Laws.
We evaluated these categories using 17 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the highest prevalence of bullying.
We then calculated overall scores for each state using the weighted average across all metrics, which we then used to construct our final ranking.
Please note that Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington were excluded from our analysis due to data limitations.
For the “Cost of Truancy” measure, we assumed a single day of truancy per school year due to bullying and used the following formula:
Cost of Truancy for Schools as a Result of Bullying = 8%*ADA*(Spending per Pupil/180)
- 8 Percent: Rate of middle school students who reported skipping school at least once due to fear of being bullied
- ADA: Average Daily Attendance
- Spending per Pupil/180: Financing per school day, per pupil
Bullying Prevalence - Total Points: 50
- Bullying-Incidents Rate: Full Weight (~16.67 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of high school students who were bullied on school property.
- Cyberbullying-Incidents Rate: Full Weight (~16.67 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of high school students who were bullied online.
- Physical-Violence Rate: Full Weight (~16.67 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of high school students involved in a physical fight on school property.
Bullying Impact & Treatment- Total Points: 25
- Percentage of High School Students Who Missed School Out of Fear of Being Bullied: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Percentage of High School Students Who Experienced Feeling Sad or Hopeless: Half Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Percentage of High School Students Who Attempted Suicide: Half Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Number of Psychologists per Capita: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Student-to-Counselor Ratio: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Cost of Truancy for Schools Due to Bullying: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Anti-Bullying Laws - Total Points: 25
- State Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Bullying Laws Including “Cyberbullying”: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Bullying Laws Including “Electronic Harassment”: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Including “Criminal Sanction”: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Including “School Sanction”: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Requiring School Policy: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- State Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Including “Off-Campus Behaviors”: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- Percentage of School Districts with LGBT Protections: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Labor Statistics, StopBullying.gov, National Education Association, National Center for Education Statistics, Cyberbullying Research Center and GLSEN.
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