Officials: Bullying Survey Shows Need For Communication

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Bullying is definitely a problem in the area, according to a survey of area students conducted by the Athens County Sheriff's Office.

The survey was posted online from Oct. 28 to Nov. 2 asking elementary, middle school and high schoolers about their thoughts and experiences with bullying.


Athens County Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith said the responses to the survey, which was conducted by the Domestic Violence Unit of the office, will help with future programs.

"It's more of a problem than we sort of realized," Smith said. "We just want to make sure we educate the students and parents and teachers."

Of 165 students that participated in the anonymous survey, 82 percent agreed that bullying was a problem at their school. The most alarming statistics for sheriff's office officials were the 28 percent that admitted to thinking of suicide due to being bullied, 53 percent that said they missed school to avoid being bullied and the 56 percent that had cried themselves to sleep due to being bullied.

Half of the students that participated were high school, while 28 percent were elementary students and 22 percent were middle school.

The Athens School district was most represented, with 33 percent, followed by Trimble at 20 percent, Alexander at 19 percent, Nelsonville-York at 18 percent and Federal Hocking with 10 percent.

When asked how frequently they were a victim of bullying, 33 percent said it occurred every day, and 85 percent of respondents said "name calling" was type of bullying that they experienced. Those that said it happened one to two times a week represented 28 percent of respondents and 22 percent said it happened one to two times a month.

Verbal threats of harm were the second-highest occurrence for bullying victims, at 47 percent, and physical harm happened for 45 percent of the students.

When asked what they did when the bullying occurred, 35 percent said they told someone about it, 21 percent said they ignored the bullying and 19 percent said they avoided the bully. Fourteen percent said they stayed home from school after being bullied.

Mean/hurtful text messages and cyberbullying got similar responses, representing about 26 percent of the responses from bullying victims. When students said they witnessed bullying, text messages represented 43 percent of the witnessed bullying, while cyber bullying represented 47 percent.

Half the participants said they witnessed bullying every day, and name calling was still the top type of bullying, with 91 percent.

Upon witnessing the bullying, 30 percent said they told a teacher or adult, 26 percent said they tried to stop the bullying and 23 percent said they ignored it. Four percent of students said they joined in the bullying.

A sense of power is the primary driving force for people to become bullies, according to 71 percent of survey-takers. Showing off was the answer of 72 percent of voters and 64 percent said bullying was a way to get attention.

Alternately, 79 percent of participants said they had never bullied anyone, but 12 percent said they did it on a monthly basis.

Bullying most often occurs in the hallways at schools, according to 76 percent of the students, whereas 72 percent said the school bus was a location for bullying. The cafeteria (65 percent), restrooms (57 percent) and online (41 percent) saw the next most bullying incidents.

As for teachers and adults witnessing the bullying, 41 percent of students said teachers and adults saw the bullying sometimes, whereas 28 percent  said they never witness the bullying.

When teachers or adults see the bullying, 52 percent of students said they try to stop it only some of the time. Responses saying that teachers don't try to stop it represented 26 percent of the responses.

Smith said he hopes to do another survey in about six months and bring about programs to help students learn how to combat bullying in their schools.

"We need to open up the lines of communication, not just to students but to everyone," Smith said.