What Makes Some California School Districts So Much Better at Preventing Bullying?

1 in 3 middle and high school students say they’ve been bullied, a new Southern California News Group analysis shows. It’s not just “kids being kids.”

Bullying can cause a victim’s grades, emotional well-being and physical health to spiral, as in the 2017 case of a Danville girl filmed with her pants down in a bathroom, the video later posted to Instagram. It can end in suicide, as in the 2017 death of a Yucaipa middle school girl whose family reported she had been repeatedly harassed and threatened with violence.And it can end in criminal charges, as in the 2019 fatal assault of a 13-year-old Moreno Valley boy whose assailants were sentenced to probation for involuntary manslaughter.

With help from USC’s Center for Health Journalism, SCNG analyzed six years of anonymous, self-reported data from students across the state. According to the analysis, 33.5% of students surveyed said they’d been bullied or harassed between 2016 and 2020. But bullying rates vary widely school district to school district — from a low of 11% to a high of 59% of students reporting incidents of bullying — with those districts showing the lowest rates making anti-bullying efforts a priority.

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