In light of all the attention to bullying after the suicide of Massachusetts high school freshman Phoebe Prince, a new survey found nearly three-quarters of Americans consider bullying and harassment a serious problem in their local public schools. Respondents, however, said illegal drugs and lack of respect for teachers were a greater problem, according to the survey by Public Agenda.
According to the study:
More than one-third of Americans (35 percent), including 39 percent of parents, say they were bullied themselves when growing up. But only 8 percent of the public and 10 percent of parents say they were bullied “a lot.” These findings are based on a Public Agenda survey of 1,001 people, including 262 parents of children under 18, conducted from April 8 – 11, 2010
Public Agenda found that 74 percent of those surveyed say bullying and harassment are serious problems in their local schools, with 47 percent calling these actions “very serious” problems. Roughly three-quarters (76 percent) of the public say illegal drugs and students treating teachers with a lack of respect are serious problems, with 53 percent calling illegal drugs and 50 percent saying disrespect for teachers was “very serious.”
Parents are actually slightly less concerned about these problems than the public overall. Sixty-nine percent of parents say bullying is a serious problem (40 percent say “very serious”), seventy percent say disrespect for teachers is a serious problem (45 percent say “very serious”), and 68 percent say illegal drugs are a serious problem (39 percent say “very serious”).
Physical fighting and cheating in schools are lesser concerns for both the total public (59 percent and 55 percent, respectively) and parents (55 percent for fighting, 48 percent for cheating).
Adults who say they were bullied in school are more likely to say bullying is a “very serious” problem (49 percent versus 42 percent of those who said they weren’t bullied). Men are more likely to say they were bullied (41 percent compared with 30 percent of women), but women are more likely to consider bullying a “very serious” problem (53 percent of women compared with 41 percent of men).