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Bullying a Chief Concern for Virginia Students

According to a newly released statewide survey

By Sara Beladi
|  Friday, Jul 8, 2011  |  Updated 3:13 PM EDT
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Bullying a Chief Concern for Virginia Students

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As any viewer of breakfast television is well aware, the crusade against bullying is the latest battle being fought to "save the children."

But for the students of Virginia Public Schools, bullying is a very real concern.

A recently released 2009-10 statewide survey indicates that bullying remains the top safety concern among public school students of all grade levels.

The Virginia School Safety Survey asked principals and superintendents to anonymously poll students of 737 elementary, middle and high schools across the state.  Nearly 92 percent of those middle schools reported that their students were concerned with bullying, compared to 83 percent of elementary schools and 77 percent of high schools, according to the study.

University of Virginia education professor Dewey Cornell told the Associated Press on Thursday that most bullying prevention programs target lower grades, but the survey shows that they are also needed at the high school level.

An online survey of all 2,002 of the state's public schools found that 76 percent of all schools had a bullying-prevention program. Of those schools, 85.5 percent of middle schools, 81 percent of elementary schools and 62 percent of high schools had such a program.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services defines bullying as "repeated negative behaviors intended to frighten or cause harm. This may include, but is not limited to, verbal or written threats or physical harm. Another form is cyber bullying, which is using information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal websites, and defamatory online personal polling websites, to support deliberate, hostile behavior intended to harm others."

The 2010 Virginia School Safety Survey was conducted from August through October 2010 and covered school safety-related topics such as: school demographic information; assessment, planning and communication; and school security/surveillance.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Virginia Center for School Safety developed the survey as a part of a statewide audit to assess school-safety conditions. The information helps shape safety and threat assessment processes, as well as prevention policies.

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