In a recent post (excerpt below) on JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), writer Mike Mitka shared an illuminating idea that rarely shows up when bullying statistics are reported. Differences among both researchers and educators as to what constitutes bullying leads to skewed data. Although few people today would disagree with the statement that bullying affects children, we don’t know the extent to which bullying impacts specific groups of children. Sexual orientation and gender identity are among the leading motivating factors linked to bullying when kids and teens report bullying incidents.
Millions of children and adolescents are estimated to be subject to bullying in schools, and the extent of legal protections for vulnerable groups needs to be more fully assessed, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a June 7 release (http://tinyurl.com/82ga4oe).
The GAO found that nationally representative surveys conducted from 2005 to 2009 suggest that up to 28% of youth, primarily at the middle school and high school levels, reported having been bullied during the survey periods. But the GAO noted that differences in definitions and questions posed to youth make it difficult to discern trends and affected groups. For example, the surveys did not collect information about respondents’ sexual orientation or gender identity.