Survey: More than half of Hawaii middle schoolers say bullying a problem

Survey: More than half of Hawaii middle schoolers say bullying a problem
A new survey underscores the problem of bullying at Hawaii schools. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 54 percent of Hawaii public middle school students and 39 percent of high school students say bullying is a major problem at their schools, according to a newly-released statewide survey.

Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 5 Hawaii high school students said they’d been the victims of bullying in the past 12 months.

And some 40 percent of middle school students said they’d been bullied at least once on school property.

The figures come as the state Education Department faces mounting pressure to address bullying and harassment on school campuses, and as they consider stricter penalties for bullies.

A class-action lawsuit filed in August alleged that the DOE is negligent in its handling of bullying and harassment complaints, and that its failure to act to protect students should be considered child abuse.

Earlier this year, an exhaustive federal investigation of bullying at Hawaii schools found that the department was struggling to handle the problem and failing to take steps to protect victims.

In a survey conducted for the investigation, nearly 1 in 3 Hawaii public school students said they’d been the victims of bullying or harassment.

The new figures are from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is conducted locally and nationally.

It found that 23 percent of middle school students said they’d been electronically bullied, while 29 percent said they’d been “purposely controlled or emotionally hurt” in the past 12 months by someone they were dating.

Among high schoolers, 15 percent said they’d been electronically bullied in the past 12 months, while 9 percent said they’d skipped school because they didn’t feel safe.

Other highlights of the survey:

  • Ten percent of Hawaii high schoolers said they’d attempted suicide in the past 12 months. That compares to 7 percent nationally.
  • One in 5 middle schoolers said they’d experienced dating violence in the past 12 months. That’s up from 16 percent in 2015.
  • Some 30 percent of Hawaii high schoolers said they felt sad or homeless almost every day for two or more weeks. That’s roughly on par with the national average.

The state Board of Education will discuss the survey results at a meeting Thursday night.

This story will be updated.

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