Saturday, August 14, 2010

National Survey Results: Kids Want Solutions to Bullying and Conflict

Eight to twelve year-olds across the country revealed, in a recently-released survey, that bullying, conflict, and meanness weighed heavy on their hearts and minds. 2171 kids throughout the US were asked to share their personal stories of bullying and conflict in a survey conducted by Naomi Drew in conjunction with Free Spirit Publishing. Across the board, what the children shared was surprisingly frank, sometimes heartbreakingly so. “I try to ignore conflicts, but if I can’t I just hurt,” said a 5th grade girl. A 6th grade boy who was cornered by a gang of kids in his school hallway wrote: “They ripped up my science book, took my hat, and laughed at me. I was so mad I went to my locker and sobbed.”

An overwhelming number of the students surveyed expressed their desire for positive change. 80% said they wanted to learn ways to end bullying, avoid fights, get along better with peers, and work out conflicts. Many felt overwhelmed by the meanness of their peers. An 11 year-old boy who was being bullied daily said, “It just makes me want to die.” With the spate of recent youth suicides that have been in the headlines, words like these can’t be ignored.

73% of the kids surveyed said other kids are somewhat to very mean. “I’ve been through a lot,” wrote a 4th grade boy. “Kids don’t like the way I look. They call me names and kick me. I am so sick of being picked on.”

Conflict is another major issue for kids. Almost 50% see conflicts happening often, every day, or all the time. 68% said being teased or made fun of is the number one source of their conflicts in their lives, and 64% listed name-calling as the cause of their conflicts. A 10 year old girl wrote, “Kids called me names every day. It got uncomfortable to be at school.” How about these break-your-heart words from a 9 year-old, “People call me names and make fun of me because I don’t have a mom.”

It’s clear from the survey that kids want and need change. Teachers want change too. A fourth grade teacher from New Jersey who responded to the survey wrote, “Anger and bullying are among the major issues I see as a teacher.” With character education programs being cut left and right, and No Child Left Behind turning our schools into testing machines, it’s time for priorities to shift. We need to stop focusing so much on test results, and do a lot more to help kids learn in an atmosphere of peace and emotional safety. In the words of a 10 year-old survey participant, “I wish there was a way to clean up this mess and find a way to make peace.”

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  1. I totally agree with you. My child has been bullied from kindergarten until 6th grade. We did everything the school wanted us to do. We got counseling from the inschool counselor and she taught him ways to deal with bullies - "Tell the bully to stop doing that because you don't like it." Yeah, that is real effective. If he tells the teachers, then he gets tormented because of that. We also went to an outside counselor. It wasn't until he finally defended himself that kids stopped putting their hands on them, although they still use their words. So, I have a 13 year old that blocks out everything - using a defensive mechanism that we as adults use. Our school does have a bullying policy but I feel that it is totally ineffective. They can't do anything to the bullies unless they admit they are bullies. It's crazy.

    I had been bullied as a child and although I am a better and stronger person because of it, it is still something that I will never forget. I continue to worry about my teenage son and if he is truly okay. And what scars bullying has left on him.

    Thanks for continuing to educate society. Keep it up.

  2. The first question would come is, from where do kids learn all these? Parents, schools, colleges, TV, Internet and society. bullying and conflict are learned from school and society. I was really unaware of these survey's, anyways thanks for sharing this with me!!

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