A new report on the number of bullying cases in Tennessee’s public schools was released by the state’s Department of Education Thursday showing there were 7,555 cases reported during the 2012-13 school year. According to the data submitted to the state’s Department of Education by school officials statewide 5,478, or 72.51 percent, of bullying reports submitted were confirmed after investigation.
In Hamilton County, there were 345 bullying cases reported in 2012-2013, 255 bullying cases indicated after an investigation, 5 bullying cases involving race, color of national origin, 85 bullying cases involving sex or gender discrimination, 4 cases involving disability, 7 bulling cases involving the use of electronic technology, and no cases still pending.
The report was required under anti-bullying legislation which passed the General Assembly in 2012 sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Representative Charles Curtiss (D-Sparta). Of those bullying cases reported, 321 were based on race, color or national origin, 695 concerned sex or gender-based discrimination and 168 involved a student’s disability.
“The numbers in this report are very alarming,” said Senator Ketron. “Besides the obvious emotional harm bullying does to a student personally, it also hampers the kind of classroom atmosphere that promotes learning. This is a systemic problem that we need to address not only in our schools, but in our homes, churches, community organizations, on the ball field and elsewhere.”
“This is so sad,” added Representative Curtiss. “I am very pleased that this information is now coming forward so we can do something about it.”
According to the report 564, or 7.47 percent, of the bullying cases reported to the Department of Education were lodged via electronic technology. The legislation sponsored by Ketron and Curtiss also strengthened Tennessee’s law against bullying and cyberbullying through the use of electronic devices. In addition, it required each Local Education Agency (LEA), at the beginning of the school year, to provide teachers and school counselors with a copy of the school’s bullying policy and its implementation process, information on prevention and strategies to address bullying and harassment when it happens, as well as relevant training on the issue.
“Based on the information available to the Tennessee Department of Education, each local education agency (LEA) in Tennessee satisfied the requirements of the state bullying and harassment laws and submitted bullying compliance information,” the report said.
“We are pleased that the report shows our local boards are now providing the information and training to help prevent bullying,” said Rep. Curtiss. “We hope that we will see improvement that will be reflected by statistics in the next report as a result of these efforts.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.