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Bullying and Harassment

Definition:
Bullying is a form of aggression between a more powerful antagonist and his/her victim.  Bullying can be physical, verbal, and/or psychological, and can be direct or indirect.  Chronic victims may experience mental health problems such as anxiety, academic difficulties, poor concentration, and withdrawal.  Bullying occurs across all age groups and includes sexual harassment, dating violence, gang attacks, domestic abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse.

Total Number of Bullying or Harassment Incidents Reported, by Academic Year
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
MD 1296 1706 3818 4678 5213 5255 4587

Data Source: Data Compiled by the Maryland State Department of Education

Story Behind the Data:

A total of 4,587 incidents of bullying, harassment, or intimidation were reported for the 2013-2014 school year; a statewide decrease of 668 reported incidents from the 2012-2013 school year.  Consistent with previous reports, most incidents occurred among middle school students.  The majority of victims, 70.1%, reported being teased, called names, or threatened, while 43.9% of the reported incidents involved a physical attack. The most frequently reported motives behind these incidents included, Just To Be Mean (34.8%), to Impress Others (15.5%), and Physical Appearance (7.8%). It was also noted that there were a large amount of alleged motives captured under the Unknown and Another Reason categories, 27.1% and 23.6% respectively.  MSDE is consistently improving methods to gather a more detailed description of data falling into these categories.

More than 80% of these bullying acts occurred on school property, and the investigation of incidents primarily involved interviewing the victim, offender, any witnesses, the victim’s parent/guardian, and teachers and/or other school staff. Based on data gathered on reports, 12. 6% of incidents resulted in an out-of-school suspension or expulsion while 5.6% of incidents resulted in in-school suspensions. Four hundred thirty one (431) students, 9.5% of victims, reportedly missed school as a result of the bullying incident compared to six hundred twenty one (621), or 13.6%, of alleged offenders.

The number of incidents reported in Maryland represents about 5.3 reports filed per 1,000 enrolled students; this is a decrease of 2.6 compared to last year.  The extent of bullying, harassment, or intimidation in Maryland public schools may be underreported by these figures, but as bullying prevention programs continue to be implemented in the Local Education Agencies and awareness is raised, the number of reported incidents may continue to decrease in coming school years.

More information about Maryland’s efforts to prevent bullying and harassment are available from MSDE’s Student Services and Alternative Programs Branch, and additional data and supporting information is available in the 2015 “Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation in Maryland Public Schools” report to the Maryland General Assembly.

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