Anoka, Minn. (WCCO) – Anoka-Hennepin Schools has released the results from its latest anti-bullying survey. Unfortunately, it shows more work is needed.

While a majority of respondents say they’ve never felt bullied, 42 percent say they have, which is up slightly from the previous year.

Ever since Anoka-Hennepin schools became ground zero in the debate about bullying, efforts have continued to make it a district priority. That includes an annual survey of students dating back to 2004 to measure if progress is being made.

“It’s hurtful, I feel like crying inside and balling up in a corner,” explains student Kiandre Ritzer-Brown.

The 19-year-old said he’s felt the hurtful words many times in the past.

“I’ve been called fat, I’ve been called ugly, I’ve been called fat ass, I’ve been called the “N” word,” Ritzer-Brown said. “I’ve been called a lot.”

Ritzer-Brown said kids need to know it’s not acceptable.

“I think kids bully because they were bullied in life, and they think it’s fun or cool, but it’s really not, it’s not cool, it’s not fun,” he said. “You might think you’re having fun with it, but you don’t know what the other people are feeling.”

The district’s most recent survey of its students shows that progress to end bullying is slower than they would like.

Forty-two percent of the nearly 5,000 students who responded to the survey said they experienced bullying and harassment in some form over the past year. That figure is up one percent from 2013.

Most often, the bullying comes in the form of spoken words. Cyberbullying — through the use of social media, computers and cell phones — fell 1 percent from the previous year.

Half of those who felt bullied say it was directed at their appearance.

Chris Novack, who’s now 18, said it began for him at the age of 10.

“When I was in elementary school, I would get bullied every day,” he said. “These people would never leave me alone, and I don’t like it at all.”

Top administrators with the Anoka-Hennepin district will spend the weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, presenting a discussion on anti-bullying efforts at the National School Board Association conference.

Bill Hudson

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