#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | The Menace Of Bullying: What MA Parents Are Saying

BOSTON — An informal survey of Patch readers in New England reveals great concern among parents about the extent and severity of bullying their children experience in school and online. Almost nine in 10 parents said their child had been bullied at least once, and nearly half said the bullying had occurred frequently.

Parents left little doubt as to the consequences of unchecked bullying, saying their children dread going to school and their grades have suffered, that they have been forced to change schools, that they have been physically harmed or suffered from low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Some parents said they knew of bullied children who had committed suicide.

As one parent wrote in a typical comment:

“My daughter was bullied so badly in high school she was suicidal. If it weren’t for one teacher who made her feel wanted and smart, I don’t know what could have happened. She had to take a gap year before college because she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression to the point she couldn’t get out of bed.”

And while most parents said school officials in their communities have adopted policies intended to curb or stop bullying, many believe those policies are poorly enforced — if they are enforced at all. Parents used terms like “ineffective,” “inadequate” and “a joke” to describe them.

The regional parent survey, timed to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month in October, was posted on more than 100 Patch sites in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The survey is not scientific, but could be considered a broad indicator of parents’ feelings about the seriousness of bullying in their schools and communities.

Take the Patch bullying survey

As of Tuesday, Oct. 15, more than 430 parents has responded to the Patch survey. The key findings were:

  • Nearly 89 percent of parents said their children had been bullied at least once, and nearly half — 47 percent — said bullying had been frequent. Only 11 percent said their children had never been bullied.
  • Bullying took many forms, from teasing and name-calling to exclusion from groups to physical harm such as punching or kicking. Nearly a third of respondents said their children had experienced some sort of physical harm.

These informal findings should be compared to statistics compiled in more scientific surveys, which note that:

Patch has undertaken extensive coverage of the bullying issue in The Menace of Bullying: A Patch Advocacy Reporting Project. To comment on this story or the series, email bullying@patch.com.

And to learn more about bullying prevention, visit Patch partner NoBully.org.

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