Nearly half of all American high schoolers faced harassment in the past year, according to a new national survey. But the real startling statistic is that roughly an equal number of students reporting being the tormenters.
Armed with the data of more than 43,000 students aged 15-18 in 78 public and 22 private schools, the Josephson Institute of Ethics’s huge survey found at least half of respondents had been “bullied, teased or taunted someone at least once” in the past year, while 47 percent reported physical abuse, harassment, or threats that “seriously upset” them. Moreover, some 52 percent said they had physically assaulted another student in the past year — which might explain why nearly a third of students said violence was prevalent in their schools, and 24 percent said their hallways were unsafe.
Additionally, 23 percent acknowledged being biased toward specific groups; 42 percent admitted using racial slurs.
These numbers, even for cynics, are startling. More than half of these kids are resorting to physical violence in school. But I can’t imagine the bullies and the bullied are completely distinct groups, although the numbers might suggest as much. We often see kids that are picked on find less powerful peers to be their victims, creating a vicious cycle of violence that begets violence.