School Violence Statistics

I've been talking to a lot of people on the local level about the School Violence Prevention Act, and urging people to write, e-mail, phone, or otherwise contact their representatives and urge them to support this important piece of legislation.

Well, recently I was asked to gather some statistics on school bullying for a local Democrat newsletter. The information was quite abundant on the web, and it really drove home the point that has bothered me. Opponents of the bill seem to be objecting to the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity, because they fear it will lead to other rights being granted to LGBT people. (Yes, I know the idea of me being granted the same rights as my brother and sister is absolutely terrifying but bear with me.)

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the information that I've found. I think it speaks to why actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity must be included. Below it I will tell my personal story.

One in fifteen students said they avoided certain places at school because they feared being attacked. (Harvard School of Public Health)

Up to 7% of eighth grade students stay home at least once a month because of bullies. (www.bullybeware.com)

Of the students who are bullied, 55.6% report being hit, slapped, or pushed. (U.S. News & World Report, May 7, 2001)

By age 24, 60% of identified bullies have a criminal conviction. (www.bullybeware.com)

Bullies tend to get in trouble more often, and to dislike and do more poorly in school, than teens who do not bully others. They are also more likely to fight, drink and smoke than their peers. (http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/faq/bullying.asp)

Some researchers have suggested that twice as many children are bullied in the school environment than in any other location.
http://www.ericdigests.org/2002-3/bullying.htm

The top three reasons why kids are bullied include physical appearance, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender expression. What makes me the most sad about this is that kids in schools today learn to use anti-gay language to bully their peers who might step over the gender or sexual orientation lines. How many times have we heard kids say “you’re so gay” or “that’s gay”? Most of the time teachers and school administrators ignore this language - parents do too.
http://www.drjanellcarroll.com/wordpress/?p=418

Nine out of ten gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth report being verbally harassed in schools today because of their sexual orientation. However, 2/3 of these students never report the bullying because they don’t think anything would be done anyways.
http://www.drjanellcarroll.com/wordpress/?p=418

The Trevor Project fields tens of thousands of calls from young people each year, both straight and LGBT-identified, with rejection and harassment by peers being one of the top five issues reported by callers.
www.trevorproject.org
(Trevor Project is a nationwide suicide help-line for LGBT and questioning youth)

For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey).

That is just a portion of the information I pulled, I ended up with four pages for this newsletter.

As for me personally. I had been an A/B honor roll student before the bullying began. I wasn't the most social but I was generally nice (I guess) and while I didn't think anything spectacularly special of myself, I still had big dreams.
In high school I remember I hated walking from my science class to my English class because every day I would pass someone in the hall that would yell the word "Fag!" as I passed. There were the usual slurs thrown at me, and snickers and scoffs as people passed. When I began driving to school, my vehicle had the words "I'm a fag" carved into the trunk, and the tires were slashed on two occasions. I reported this to the school security officer, and he said he'd take care of it. Nothing ever came of that.
Then there was a foreign exchange student. He had told several people that he hated me (for being gay) and that he was going to get me expelled. He told the vice-principal that I wrote him obscene letters (which he never produced) and the vice-principal did indeed threaten me with expulsion. When I told some the few friends I had what had happened, they said they had been told by the student that he was going to try and get me expelled and they would speak to the vice-principal for me. When I told the vice-principal that I had witnesses in defense of my case, his only response was "You don't have a case! Don't let it happen again."
Not long after I tried to stand up to one of the bullies by reporting his behavior to the vice-principal, but I was told that without signed witnesses, dates and times, that he couldn't do anything. Naturally, I became depressed. I hated school, my grades dropped, and I got my first D's and F's. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go to my parents (That's a whole nother story.) And a friend suggested I talk to the school counselor.
That is exactly what I did. And she listened very calmly as I told her everything. And when I finally finished and told her that I didn't know what else to do, her response to me, and I will never forget these words as long as I live, was "I'm sorry, I wish there was some way I could help, but because the school board has adopted an abstinence only policy, we can't touch the topic of homosexuality with a ten foot pole."

I'm very thankfully that I never sank to a suicidal stage, I don't know for sure why I didn't. But the part that hurts me the most about the whole thing is that, even with all the hell I went through... there are others out there who are worse off than I.

As for those legislators that say we need to cut sexual orientation and gender identity from the School Violence Prevention Act, I truly hope they realize the consequences of their actions, before another child dies.