First Statewide Bullying Count Finds 5,478 Cases in Tennessee

October 25, 2013

Tennessee’s first statewide count of school bullying incidents found 5,478 cases last school year, shocking the lawmaker who asked for the study.

The Department of Education report turned up 7,555 reports of bullying. Investigations confirmed acts of bullying in 73 percent of reports.

“The numbers, they’re quite shocking,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro. “I was thinking there’d be less than a thousand reports of bullying captured. Over 5,000? That’s huge. And that’s just what was reported.”

Ketron and Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, passed legislation requiring the statewide study in 2012 in the wake of two high-profile bullying-related student suicides in Middle Tennessee.

“Nobody had ever captured that data,” Ketron said.

Ketron, saying that bullying impacts students, hampers learning and reaches beyond classrooms into the communities, said he wants the data to spur districts to examine the effectiveness of their bullying policies.

An often-cited national study of bullying found that more than 7 million teenagers, or 28 percent of students, reported being bullied at school in the 2008-09 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The report did not tally incidents by state. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education found 46 states had anti-bullying laws.

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