Study: Half Of Minn. Students Bullied Or Bullies

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — More than half of students in Minnesota schools reported they had been bullied or had bullied someone else at least once in the past year, according to an analysis of 2010 survey data of the state’s students.

The analysis by the Departments of Health and Education covered more than 130,000 students’ responses to the Minnesota Student Survey, which is administered every three years to students in sixth, ninth and 12th grades.

The analysis found that nearly 43 percent of students had not experienced or been involved in bullying. But 13 percent were bullied once a week or more. Bullying was defined as being made fun of, teased in a way that hurt, or excluded from friends or activities by others.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, told Minnesota Public Radio News ( the analysis released in March was proof that school officials must do more to address bullying.

“We want welcoming, engaging, supportive environments in all our schools,” she said. “But we have to help children and teach them the skills so that when conflict arises, they’re able to deal with it in a healthy way.”

Education specialist Nancy Riestenberg said students regularly involved in mistreatment, either as a bully or as a victim, are less likely to earn As or Bs. They skip school more often and have higher rates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

“The kids who said they’ve never really been bullied, their life is pretty stable and looks pretty healthy,” said Riestenberg. “But the kids who have experiences with bullying — whether victims or offenders — that’s not true for them.”

The analysis found that about 9 percent of students bullied their peers at least once a week, and they shouldn’t be forgotten, said Jennifer O’Brien, adolescent health coordinator at the state Department of Health.

“I think often when we look at this issue, we think just about the victim’s side of it,” O’Brien said. “We think `what can we do to protect this young person who’s the victim of bullying?’ And while that’s so important, I think this report really charges us as professionals to be looking at the experiences and needs of those that are bullying.”

The student survey asked a wide range of questions, such as whether students wear seat belts, have smoked or had sex. It also asked about their grades, home life and suicidal thoughts.

According to the report, more than a quarter of Minnesota students who have been a frequent bully or victim also thought of suicide in the past year.

But the link between bullying and suicide isn’t simple and there’s rarely a single reason why young people kill themselves, said Maureen Underwood, a social worker who works with the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. But, she said, bullying might make youth who are already vulnerable more susceptible to thoughts of suicide.

“Lots of kids are depressed and lots of kids are bullied, and all of these kids are not suicidal,” she said. “So there’s something that separates the kids who choose suicide from all the rest of the kids who come up with healthier ways to cope with being victimized.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • angel1234

    Schools are not doing what they should be doing to protect the bullied and educate the bullies about the damage they are doing. Everybody talks about it, parents like me whose children are bullied are frustrated dealing with school administrators. In the meantime, our children are suffering, and are damaged for life. Some are losing their lives by killing themselves because they are not getting the support and see no way out of this horrible situation. The bullies know that no law is there to punish them and they get energized. It is a shame our country is ailing with this plague called bullying in our schools and we are not taking any serious measure to stop it. How many kids have to take their own lives before everyone sees what it does for the future generation that will take over this country and do something about it. There is so much talk, but no enough action.

    • Mark

      I could never understand why in school detention was not handed out more liberally. I was bullied in school for years and it made me absolutely miserable. Teachers and the principle did essentially nothing. Once the principle asked me, with the bully sitting right next to me, what I thought would be an appropriate punishment! How clueless can you be? Do the police put you in a room with the criminal you are accusing then ask you to assign punishment. Then walk you both out the front door and say I’ll call you later? How likely would anyone be to press charges? Additionally being caught in a fight, even if you aren’t fighting, is grounds for punishment. I got picked up by the neck, wasn’t doing or saying anything and both me and the bully got in trouble. It’s like being powerless, completely and utterly worthless and you can’t stop going to school. Life gets better, but when you are young and stuck in the middle… it certainly doesn’t seem like it ever could.

    • Bob


      What do you think the schools should do? You say that they are not doing what they should.

      • SB

        Kick them out of the school. If you can’t respect the other kids you shouldn’t be allowed around them!

      • mom

        schools need to get serious about bullying instead of just saying they have zero tolerance for it. If you have zero tolerance susupend the kid that is doing the bullying, and if that doesn’t work kick him out of school. It is the right of every child to feel safe at school, we as parents have to send our kids to school or we would get in trouble, it is up to the school to take a parent’s concern about bullying seriously. I am very active in my children’s school district, have a lot of friends that are teachers, , I know what goes on in school. Maybe if the school districts would start suspending these kids and I don’t mean in school , I mean stay at home can’t come to school at all, parents of the kid being the bully would get the point and do something at home about the bullying. Chances are the kids that are doing the bullying have 2 kinds of parents the ones that insist their child is perfect and would never be mean to another kid or the other kind that could care less what their kid is doing as long as they are out of their hair for 7 hrs a day. We need to not only hold the schools accoutable but the parents of the bullies as well.

    • Gail

      So true. My daughter was beaten up by a boy every day right in the hall outside her 2nd grade in Louisville. The teachers refused to take time to supervise the children in the halls. The principal wouldn’t do anything and neither would the superintendent. They were all guilty of her abuse by not getting off their butts and supervising the children. I went everyday to the principal to ask him to do something and he said it was my job to do something about it like call the police.

      • May

        You should have gone to the police…and reported the principal. This is awful. My daughter is in second grade and dealing with bullies and it’s painful to see. She has a learning disability and this makes her a target for bullies.

  • Ron Paul for Pres

    I feel the same way and the schools wont do anything until something happens to the funding start taking it away and maybe something can get done! Parents need to step up and do something with their kids that are starting the problems. I have noticed even on these comment pages it you have a different opinion from someone else you are called names and it is always the same people and their kids probley act the same way in school!

    • Josh

      @Ron Paul
      START taking the funding away? Schools don’t have the resources that they need to deal with these problems because they’re stretched to the limit as it is! Yet another person with an uninformed non-solution.

  • Ben

    “More than half a chance” a student has been bullied? What does that mean?? How does this meaningless grammatical construction ever make it past the editing desk??

    • Anna

      I agree!

  • Ya!

    @ Bob We had a kid in our school who was in a wheel chair he was caught out in the hallway between classes and beaten so bad his cath was pulled out, he was rushed to the E.R. and never returned to school. So this kid should just suck it up quit crying?

  • Jim

    I went to school throughout the entire decade of the 70’s and bullying occurred then, it occurred before, and it occurrs now. It is nothing new. But it should never have been allowed in the past or now. I am at encouraged by the fact the people are now at last speaking out about it being unacceptable. That is a start. But people like Bob are part of the problem. As long as they are in the way, the problem will never by effectively addressed. To say that kids need to toughen up and fight back is not a solution at all. Kids going to school shouldn’t be viewed like a bunch of animals fighting over meat. We, as human beings, are civilized and that is what schools should and need to teach. Rather than children learning through force to have to defend themselves, children should be learning how to treat others. That’s the difference between being taught how to be a civilized person verses learning the ways of an animal. Bob views puncing someone in the nose as the solution. There are many, many children who are bullied that don’t have that option and are trapped in literal hxxx. In many and most instannces, children are powerless to work things out themselves. That’s why we are suppose to have adults in charge of them. And these adults need to be trained and pay attention so that injustices don’t occur like what Mark experienced. Children should like school, enjoy learning, and not be scared to death to go there.

    • tiredandretired

      I agree. The biggest problem I see is that teachers have many students to observe (bullies can be very sneaky) and little time to address problems among students. They are also not receiving adequate training or support in dealing with this issue. If we want this corrected, we need to specifically demand that these needs are met, then be willing to pay for making the necessary improvements. I, for one, am willing to do so.

  • Big Bill

    Everyone says, “What are schools going to do about it!” Really? How about what are parents going to do at home? Too many parents expect schools to raise their kids because the parents cannot do the parenting! It is simple, learn how to treat people at home with correct morals and values. Get a clue people, it is not the school’s responsibility to raise your kids.

    • mimi28

      Oh how wrong you are Big Bill, we have no choice the law says that children must go to school. When we send them to school we are putting thier care into other adult’s hands. These same adults are not blind nor are they deaf. They CHOOSE to not see what is right in front of thier nose. My daughter has made literally hundreds of trips to the school to try to get protection for her child. He has learning disabilities and is a prime target. If these same teachers, who have been told time and again that he is bullied daily and are doing nothing to stop it then THEY are the problem. They only got involved after my daughter got a lawyer and filed a lawsuit against the school district. That lawsuit is pending and will not be withdrawn. We as parents have virtually no control of our childrens lives after those school doors shut and the only thing that stopped this bullying was the threat of actually paying for thier negligence. I cannot wait to see the outcome of this suit and thank God my daughter kept a diary of all that has happened over the years it is documented with names and actions.

      • SB

        Good for you and your Daughter! Don’t listen to Big Bill. Your doing us all a favor by bring this out. When you leave your child in someone else’s care you expect them to be safe.

  • David

    This is everyones problem not just the schools, although they definitley need to be more aggressive in addressing this problem. Parents of all kids need to take most of the responsibility, if your kid is a bully then you need to take responsibility and make sure they stop, If your kid is being bullied then you need to take appropriate action to protect your kid and teach them to protect themselves physically and emotionally and if your kid is on the sidelines then you need to tell them to do what they can to help where they can and to discourage bullying so that it becomes very unpopular. We have to take responsibility for our children and teach them to take responsibility for themselves We can’t expect the schools and government to do everything.

    • Mark

      The problem with “teach your kid to defend themselves physically and emotionally” is that you are asking an innocent party, who may well be severely ill equipped to deal with one or more “bullies” on their own. We don’t ask people who are assaulted in the streets to just tough it out. You call the police. Schools need functional authority figures. They cannot be power vacuums where students must face unopposed tyrants. I faced bullies for years, tried ignoring it, didn’t work. Tried fighting back, got it even worse. Tried begging, yeah, no dice. Tried teachers, now you’re in for it.

      One day in gym playing flag football, about 50% of the males in class decided to tackle me, hard, both teams, and I didn’t have the ball. There were so many on top of me I couldn’t breath at all. I started to black out. One guy had the decency to help. Yeah, just toughen up… what precisely where my options? What emotional preparation would be an effective tool for that situation?

  • eastside_evil

    Not every kid is equipped to kick another kid’s butt, Bob. We shouldn’t have to put our kids in MMA training to keep other people’s kids from tormenting them at school.
    Don’t blame the victims of bullying for not being tough enough, Bob.

  • Chris

    What are the schools supposed to do? I don’t know maybe remove the bully. Place them in a diversion program at school. They could call they bully’s parent(s) but they are more than likely part of the problem. I guess my thoughts have always been if the school administrators don’t want to take bullying seriously you can always beat them up and bully them so they can get a refresher course.

    My son, who is in pre-school told me the kids were hitting him and was being bothered for about a 2 week period. I finally sat him down and told him if they hit you that he will have to hit them back until they leave him alone. We started play fighting at home more often, really I am training him in defense tactics. I can gladly say that he hasn’t complained about being bothered by the mean kids for a while now. However, its pretty sad when this is my only recourse and I know in school when kids pick on him and he lets them have it, I will be called to pick him up as punishment. But that’s cool, because I will be sure to have a discussion in that office to determine what led up to the incident. You can bet your bottom that if its because my son was being victim I will give that principal hell until they address the bullying with that student and their parents as well.

  • Rob Wagner

    Big Bill you are right on! It’s not the schools problem. Just more liberials complaining again. If are teachers are going to educate and baby sit we better pay them a lot more.

  • Be a parent

    I’m reading all these posts, and most of them are sad. Didn’t anyone raise a good child with morals? My children will never be bullied at school because of the way they were raised. In fact, if one of my children observed a bully at work on some victim, they would step in and end it. Why? Because they were raised right at HOME. As much as some of you will complain about that, you can bet your kids would love to have my children as friends. Parents get some responsibility.

    • May

      My children will never be bullied at school because of the way they were raised? Are you bloody serious?!?! I was a victim of SEVERE bullying and it had nothing to do with the way *I* was raised. Get a clue and educate YOURSELF!

    • eastside_evil

      “My children will never be bullied at school because of the way they were raised.”

      Boy are you in for a rude awakening…

  • Joy

    With the introduction of social networking, bullying has been magnified. Why continue to call it bullying? That term lessens the actual impact on a still-developing child’s mental health. Lets call it what it is: verbal/physical assault, stalking, on-going harrassment. Since when would a grown adult be called a bully for assaulting someone, yet that’s what we tolerate in children. I realize parents are very busy these days, but they must screen their childrens cell phones, facebook, and twitter page. Even if you think what your child is saying or doing is harmless teenage behavior, if you take swift action with your teen, they will think twice about bullying someone. Also, find ways to increase compassion in your child. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and bring your kid with you. Or, instead of working at a fastfood restaurant or a clothing store, get them employed at a nursing home or a mentally/physically handicap facility.

  • Victim Du Jour

    But what would I know, I’m a paranoid conspiracy theorist with nothing to do all day long except become deeply entrenched in manic bouts of insanity. Cry for me, people.

    • Victim Du Jour

      Sssstop Bullying me your Sssssilly PSssssycho-babble (with my best Richard Simmons voice impression)

      • Mark from

        @Victim Du Juor

      • griley

        Are uou this ignorant normally, or do you have to work at it.

  • anon

    Bullying does start at home. My son had problems with kids not including him in sports because he was shorter than the other boys, I talked with the school social worker about this and she does classes on how to treat others. My son was also in boy scouts. These same kids that he went to school with would be there at the meetings with their parents and bully other kids right in front of mom and dad, mom and dad never said anything. So yes it starts at home teaching your kids treat others as you want to be treated. My daughter has her own problems at school and we haven’t figured out how to solve that one yet. Too many girls in one classroom equals big drama and they all steal from each other and say they never did it and make threatening gestures and my daughter says she tells the teacher but if they don’t see it it just continues. No I don’t think it’s the schools job to babysit but if your kids are there it is their job to help them when they go to an adult they are suppose to trust. If we taught our kids to fight back then they would be in trouble and kicked out of school while the bully still gets to keep on bullying. This no tolerance is really just that words, or talk. These bullies aren’t the typical steal your lunch money they say mean and vindictive things or do things, than place the blame on to the victim so they won’t get in trouble. Schools need to do something. And I don’t mean Olweas programs either.

  • naomi

    My grandaughter goes to middle school in dakota county,and she have recently been bulillied. We reported it to the principal and he said that he doesn’t considered it to be bulling. She was surrouned in the locker room, one student brought a belt to school with spikes on it to beat her with. Fortunate for her she didn’t back down but she got suspended everytime for defending her self. The principal told her the next time she get into a fight that she woul get expel from school districr 196. Apparently the other children education is more important than hers.

  • FridleyMom

    Today’s bully will be tomorrow’s ‘Bad Boss’. Kids don’t ‘grow out’ of this behavior – many times it’s more than just a bad home life and there are real chemical imbalances involved. We are so quick to throw meds or blame at a problem without a real understanding that ‘Cause and Effect’ can be taught to even the so called lower animals.
    I would not be a teacher for 500K a year!! Thankless, stressful, politically correct boundaries that do not BEGIN to work within reality and not only racism but REVERSE racism…. and they have NO authority like they did in the 50’s thru 70’s – and the kids know it!
    If there are NO REAL CONSEQUENCES for the bad behavior – THERE IS NO DETERANT.
    I think field trips should include a few ‘scared straight’ visits to prisons, homeless shelters or a few rounds with a Nun….But only the parents can START a kid off right… it’s our responsibility the second we conceive, that the viability of the human we will raise and set loose on society can be the BEST he or she can be. Since the 80’s parenting has gone in the s*itter – Perhaps applying a heavy fine on the PARENTS who make no effort to protect the world from their beast that is terrorizing classmates and someday soon will be doing the same in the work environment. Money talks… it’s the one thing that any income tier listens to. For those bullies kicking on the disabled…..sorry, but I would seriously condone eye for an eye if those punks were not incarcerated in Juvi pre-school. There has to be REAL consequences for predators regardless of their age.

    • eastside_evil

      “Since the 80’s parenting has gone in the s*itter”

      You couldn’t be more wrong. You thought the parenting of the 50s and 60s was the way to go, and hearken to days gone by as the golden years of parenting.

      Ahh yes, the age of child abuse. A few rounds with a nun? What is that comment even supposed to mean?

  • Victim Du Jour

    All they have to worry about is physical violence.

    Free Speech applies to public schools.

  • Kenyans get the job done right

    Ah, education bashing. How original …..

  • Sandy Berger

    I was bullied as a child in school from 6th grade on all because I was born with a skin disorder that affected my appearance. I looked different, so I was teased due to it. I do believe that a more proactive approach needs to be implemented by the schools. Teachers need to be positive role models and respond immediately to any sign of bullying in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, or on school grounds. We also need to use positive approaches for the bullies- we want to stop the bullying, Not suspend them or kick them out, so they can go bully at another school, or out in the community, or later turn to crime, drugs, or suicide. If a student is identified or caught bullying, maybe they need to be signed to see a guidance counselor to determine the cause or reason and assign them a counselor on an ongoing basis to help support them in stopping the behavior or a structured support group of other kids who bully. The kids who are bullied- the same response should apply. Get them connected to a guidance counselor who they can report in a safe way of further acts of bullying and support on positive ways of dealing with it in a constructive manner. Maybe a support group could be developed for them also with other bullied students.

  • Truth Hurts

    Simple answer that works: Allow the teachers to spank (not beat, but discipline and get their attention) any child who talks back; doesn’t listen; or gangs up with others and physically harms another child. It would work every time. Parents tell there children to be nice and end it at that. The children have never been disciplined in there life and do not understand that there are consequences for poor judgment, they do whatever they want. They go to school and do whatever they want. Children who are taught discipline are not the ones “bullying” and they are the ones who stand up for themselves and don’t get bullied more than once. I understand the physical violence and the teachers need to address it when the parents fail. But, the vast majority of this bullying BS is “poor Johnny was teased because he couldn’t run on the playground because his parents let him play xbox while eating ice everynight after school instead of doing chores, studying and staying busy”. Wake up people, this is 99% the parents fault. Ignorance breeds more ignorance.

    • Please don't breed

      Wow. Just. Wow.

      If any teacher were to put a hand on my child I’d be calling the police. Spanking them for “talking back” or “not listening”? My daughter has a learning disability. She has a hard time following directions and processing information specially when it’s told verbally. I’m sorry, bu the TRUTH in this matter is that YOU are the ignorant party and I hope to god you don’t breed.

    • eastside_evil

      “Simple answer that works: Allow the teachers to spank (not beat, but discipline and get their attention) any child who talks back; doesn’t listen; or gangs up with others and physically harms another child. It would work every time.”

      You’re wrong. That does NOT work “every time” or even some of the time.
      Ever seen a teacher punish the wrong child in class for talking? I have. What if the teacher walked over and smashed the kid’s knuckles with a ruler, and the kids wasn’t doing squat?

      Worse, what if the kid was telling the actual misbehaving kid to straighten up, and the teacher only sees that action, and starts swinging?

      Sorry, but any teacher that puts a hand on my kids won’t be getting that hand back.

      • tiredandretired

        As a retired teacher, I agree. Corporal punishment is just another form of bullying. A teacher who believes that it is a solution is a very rare individual today.

  • Terrance Opine

    My daughter, she is in 1st grader sat in a seat on the bus and a 3rd grade was hitting her. My daughter sits in the front part of the bus. This girl never seats in the front. School doesn’t do much but talk. My 4th grade got kicked in the face by a 6th grader. I got sick of this, Kids were having thier heads out the window when they were dropping my kids off. I hope my call to the bus places this time, because calling the school doesn’t nothing.

  • tiredandretired

    Bullying is a societal problem that students bring with them into the school setting. It permeates all age groups; not just K-12 students. There is bullying in the workplace, in the home, in politics, in the media, and in all types of social settings. Why do people bully? Because they want power. Most people who bully learned it by being bullied. Why do people follow the bullies and serve as accomplices? Because they don’t want to be bullied themselves. Joining in the bullying insulates them from becoming victims. Can schools effectively deal with bullying? Speaking from experience, I can say that schools can’t totally eliminate bullying, but they can certainly minimize it. How? Schools need to educate students about the different forms that bullying takes, the motivation of bullies, how victims are impacted, how the community perceives bullies, and how bullies are negatively affected by their own actions. Then, schools need to periodically survey students, to identify bullies and their victims. Once those bullies are identified, they need to be confronted by adults to inform them about how they are being perceived and encourage them to fix the problems they are causing. Identified bullies and victims need to be carefully monitored via staff observations and individual followup meetings. Those who continue bullying should be involved in a “bully circle” meeting with their victims and other classmates. During this meeting, each student should tell the bully how they perceive them, as a result of their actions, and specify how the bully can change that negative perception. The victim should be empowered to address his/her tormentor(s), tell how he/she is being affected, and express their expectations for resolving the problem. Effective benchmarks for change should be established, as well as the bully’s apology and promise for resolution. Followup meetings should be scheduled, to ensure accountability. This method recognizes that bullying is a community issue and empowers the community to address it. It also empowers the victim and provides a path by which the bully can re-gain community trust and acceptance. If the bully refuses to participate, or does not follow through on their promises, then punitive measures must be used to force compliance or remove them from the school. To make this approach work, the school must first train its entire staff in restorative justice practices, then start each day with students in small homerooms, where students are trained in conflict resolution strategies and skills, and community-building activities regularly occur. The creation and adoption of a homeroom curriculum that facilitates this training, as well as a school-wide restorative discipline plan, are critical to the cultivation of a cooperative school community that is capable of effectively resolving bullying and other student issues. Finally, teachers need to have the time to effectively utilize such a program, as well as administrative support in its application. How do I know all of this? Because I was very involved in the development and implementation of such a program. It was extremely successful and helped us create a safe, efficient learning environment, in which student behavior, attendance, and test scores improved greatly.

    • griley

      — I agree with all but one point. I think this behavior is also learned at home. The biggest bully in my son’s school is a perfect example. He is the spitting image of his father in regards to how he treats people. The old adage, like father, like son.. By the way, the father is a successfull business person who thinks he is better than everyone and makes sure everyone knows it. This knows no social or economic boundries.

      • tiredandretired

        If you re-read the first few sentences in my last post, you will see that we are in agreement on this, as well. I have had extensive training and experience, as referenced above, and have demonstrated that this works. I also have trained many teachers, counselors, and administrators in restorative school discipline. It takes a great deal of training, work, and commitment, but the investment pays great dividends for students. Time invested in pro-active measures is regained via fewer interruptions to instruction and decreased stress for students and teachers. FYI, my description of this approach is a very brief summary of a long-range process, but its effects will become evident early in the transition. We had an 80%+ drop in discipline referrals within the first semester. After a year, we no longer needed an in-house police officer. Our interactions with students became much more positive, as did their interactions with each other. Students were actually excited about coming to school and proudly took pride in their involvement in training adults from other schools, in the application of restorative justice in schools.

        • griley

          Calrified!!. Wish my district had something like this. My son has ADD so attentionissues arise and he has late assignments making him the focus of what can be some very nasty attention. When we went to the school , their solution was to put him in an “alternative high School”. The one where the send the kids with discipline issues. Talk about making the the kid feel like he is responsible for what the others were doing.

  • Mark from

    The story should have been titled “Half of Minnesota Students are Wimps”

    • eastside_evil

      Blame the victim, Mark.

      It sets you apart from the rational people so we can see who you are and not waste our time with thinking you have a clue.

    • griley

      Typical response from some one who got their thrills in school from being the bully

  • Ann

    My oldest son was bullied all through his school years, school staff were not helpful. We decided that he had to ask 3 times for them to stop, If they did’nt he could fight back,and we would deal with the fall out of the fight afterwards There was no fallout because the bullies did’nt want anyone to know they got their ass beat by a geek, LOL

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