Bullying is on the rise in Wyoming schools, study shows

Dec 14, 2011

TheBullying is on the rise in Wyoming middle and high schools, according to a new report by the Wyoming Department of Education.

2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey allows students to anonymously share their experiences regarding a host of health risk behaviors including sex, intentional and unintentional injury, unhealthy diet and exercise, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

The biennial survey found that about 54 percent of middle school students and 24 percent of high school students say they were bullied in the last year, up slightly from the 2009 report.  This is also the first year the survey asked about cyber-bullying, and more than a quarter of middle school students say they have been victims.

Megan McClellan of the Department of Education says technology is making it easier for teens to pick on one another.

“These students aren’t face-to-face communicators anymore.  They’re saying a whole bunch of things that they wouldn’t necessarily say," McClellan says. "They’re saying it online or over Facebook. You know, threatening each other that way. And I think that the invisibility of it makes it that much more aggressive.”

McClellan says media attention to bullying paired with the Wyoming Legislature's 2009 mandate that schools develop anti-bullying policies have raised public awareness about the issue.

“I think that it’s getting worse, I think that it’s getting progressively more dangerous," McClellan says. "But I also think that schools and communities and parents are paying more attention.”

McClellan says survey is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control. The results are available online at http://edu.wyoming.gov/DataInformationAndReporting/YouthRiskBehaviorSurvey.aspx.