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 Article of Interest - Bullying

Students don't pull punches

Colorado schools have plenty of bullies, survey indicates

by Berny Morson, Rocky Mountain News, July 30, 2002

Colorado students are frequently subjected to verbal and physical abuse by other youngsters at school, according to a survey of more than 1,000 students from fifth through 12th grade.

The report found that 67 percent were teased or the subject of gossip during the past month. And 46 percent were hit, shoved, kicked or tripped in the past month.

Ninw percent said they were attacked with a weapon in the past month, while 8 percent said they were forced to perform a sexual act.

The report, Ask the Children: Youth and Violence, was funded by the Colorado Trust, a Denver-based philanthropic group which today will announce it is making $1.3 million available to schools to deal with problems of bullying.

The money could be used for anti-bullying curriculums, said Ed Guajardo Lucero, a trust program officer.

Kimberlee Salmond, an author of the $250,000 report, said responses were subjective, since the youngsters had to decide if behavior directed at them constituted teasing and if it was on purpose.

"It's subjective, but it's how significant it is to them," Salmond said.

The report found that bullying is not a one-way street - many of the youngsters who said they were victimized by bullies also said they taunted others.

For example, 59 percent of the youngsters who said they were hit shoved, kicked or tripped said they treated other students the same way.

The report didn't name the schools that were surveyed.

The report is in sharp contrast to a survey by Jefferson County Public Schools of 60,000 youngsters during the past school year.

The Jeffco researchers found that 84 percent of the youngsters agreed or strongly agreed that they feel safe in school. Seventy-seven percent of the Jeffco students agreed or strongly agreed that bullies are punished at their school.

Janet Alcorn of the University of Northern Colorado said the amount of teasing and shoving reported by the students may not be unusual.

But, she added, "Is there something being done (by educators)? If you were pushed and teased, the more important question is, 'Was there a response?' "

Alcorn, a former Jeffco elementary principal, heads UNC's Tointon Institute, which provides career training to teachers and principals. She had a strong anti-bullying program at Sheridan Green Elementary School in Westminster.

"These kinds of reports bother me," Alcorn said. "But I think if each of us went back to our own experiences, that's part of childhood."

That doesn't make it OK, she added.


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