This is the first in a multipart series on school bullying.
Louisiana has been placed on the top of a national ranking list as the state where school bullying is most prevalent. Financial advisement website Wallethub.com released an analysis stating that Louisiana has the highest percentage of school fights, online bullying and students who attempt suicide.
Wallethub.com analyst Jill Gonzalez explained the metrics that were used in the rankings.
"The top metrics we used to evaluate the states where bullying incidents rate, cyberbullying incidents rate and physical violence rate,” Gonzalez said. “Equally important were the number of psychologists per capita, and the student-to-counselor ratio."
Gonzalez expressed that cyberbullying is a real issue in schools today, as children are constantly communicating online with one another through social media and cell phones.
She said that the issue is not any particular type of child, rather that all children could easily fall victim to cyberbullying.
“Since we are seeing a constant rise in online, anonymous bullying, any child could be a potential victim. Children are more at risk of being cyber-bullied when their online activity isn't monitored." Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez emphasized that parents should monitor their children’s online profiles and keep in touch with what is going on with their child at school.
"Protecting children against cyberbullying is not easy. Some of the things parents can do to prevent it are monitoring their kids' online usage, or ask to see their social media profiles. The most important thing here is for parents to talk to their children about cyber-bullying and earn their trust."
While cyberbullying is a large issue, it is not the only kind of bullying that takes place in this day and age.
Traditional bullying both physical and verbal is extremely present in Louisiana schools.
It leads many to the question “what makes a child want to bully someone else?” Gonzalez expressed her belief that many children who choose to bully were either bullied themselves, suffer from self esteem issues or are the victims of some sort of abuse.
“There are several, very different causes that contribute to a child becoming a bully. Sometimes it's their temperament, size or self-esteem. Other times it can be their family background. They may have experienced abuse, or have been bullied themselves in the past." Gonzalez explained.
The next question that many people ask is “what can be done?”
The answer to that question is a more complicated one. Gonzalez and other aspects point out that many state and local governments have laws that include all sorts of bullying.
Additionally most schools have rules against most of the type of bullying that takes place.
A solution that Gonzalez offers in her analysis is to increase accessibility towards quality counseling in the schools, and for schools to adopt new strategies to prevent bullying and increase accountability.
"There are anti-bullying laws and policies that already exist. Both state and local governments should continue to develop them to include all forms of bullying, like cyberbullying, online harassment, or bullying that occurs off-campus,” Gonzalez said. “The laws and policies should also include both criminal and school sanctions. At a local level, schools should adopt practices to prevent, identify and respond to bullying."
The data released by Wallethub shows that outside of the normal consequences of bullying, schools are affected by it both academically and financially.
The data shows that truancy increases where bullying is most prevalent.
According to a report by the National Association of Secondary School Principals the average public school can lose more than $2.3 million as a result of lower attendance and various types of disciplinary actions.