New poll calls bullying 'major problem' in Hawaii

New poll calls bullying 'major problem' in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new poll calls bullying a "major problem" in Hawaii.

The survey prepared for 'Equality Hawaii Foundation' by Qmark Research surveyed 442 registered voters last July, but the results weren't revealed until now.

57 percent responded they have been 'impacted by bullying'.  It's confirmation of horror stories we've heard from students like Miranda Kam. She left school after classmates "started spreading vicious rumors about boys and my intelligence."

We've also seen bullying escalate to blows, or worse. "I feel like killing myself. I have suicidal thoughts" said an actor in a PSA about bullying.

It was part of a 1 million dollar 'Peaceful Schools' campaign launched by the Department of Education in 2011.

The results surprised Qmark Research President Barbara Ankersmit. She said, "57 percent of the people we polled say they have been impacted by bullying. Frankly, that to me was somewhat of a surprise."

37 percent responded they've been personally bullied. Caucasians reported the highest rate, 47 percent.

Equality Hawaii Foundation Board Member Mathew Bellhouse-King said, "These numbers really show we aren't doing our job. It used to be when you were bullied, you could leave school and get away from the bullying. Now it can be 24-7."

The consequences can be tragic, like the recent suicide of a Florida teen, taunted online. Statistics show bullying victims are three times more likely to attempt suicide.

Bellhouse-King said, "Hawaii has one of the highest levels of youth suicide in the nation."

The DOE cites improvements monitoring and reporting bullying and harassment, but 92 percent said the State should address the issue.

Bellhouse-King added, "I don't think we're doing enough. Data collected by DOE is inconsistent and incomplete. It doesn't provide an accurate picture of what bullying is in Hawaii."

In response, we received a statement saying "The Department of Education takes bullying very seriously, encourages reporting, and has anti-bullying resources on its website.

Equality Hawaii Foundation will lobby for changes in response to the poll results.

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