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6 Facts About Bullying in Illinois You Should Know

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Now that the school year has begun for many schools in Illinois, thousands of students will experience some form of bullying in school or on the internet. In fact, Illinois is one of the 10 worst states for bullying.

It's estimated that U.S. schools harbor at least 2.1 million bullies, according to the National School Safety Center. Although bullying is not a new phenomenon, the digital age, particularly the proliferation of social media, has made cyberbullying one of the biggest challenges facing schools, students and parents as bullies no longer are confined to school grounds.

A survey conducted by the iSafe Foundation found that in 2014, 52 percent of young people reported being bullied online and 25 percent of teenagers reported experiencing repeated bullying via their cellphone or online. In 2011, nine out of 10 teens said they witnessed cyberbullying while they were using social media, according to the PEW Internet Research Center. That same year, Consumer Reports reported at least one-million children were harassed on Facebook alone.

Bullying, whether at school or online, can have serious and lasting effects on a child's physical and mental health, according to Science Daily.

"Researchers found that bullying at any age was associated with worse mental and physical health, increased depressive symptoms and lower self-worth. Participants who experienced chronic bullying also reported increased difficulties in physical activities like walking, running or participating in sports. Those who experienced bullying in the past and were also experiencing bullying in the present showed the lowest health scores."

Whether you're a parent, student or faculty member, here are 6 things you should know about bullying in Illinois and protections currently in place for the more than two-million students enrolled in public schools.

6 facts to know about bullying in Illinois

6.
It's estimated that
schoolchildren between the ages of five and 18 are involved in bullying. That estimate includes students who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying, making Illinois one of the top 10 worst states when it comes to bullying incidents.

5. Illinois does not have a statewide model policy to address bullying though anti-bullying laws have been enacted by the General Assembly.

4.
In 2006, the Legislature enacted the state's first anti-bullying law, which was
a year later to include the following requirements effective as of Feb. 23, 2008:
  • School districts must create and maintain a policy on bullying and file it with the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Each school district must communicate its bullying policy to parents and students on an annual basis.
  • Anti-bullying polices must be updated every two years and filed with the board of education.
  • ISBE is responsible for monitoring the implementation of these policies.
3.
While each district in the state is required by law to have anti-bullying policies, a
by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network found just 66.4 percent of Illinois school districts in 2011 had anti-bullying policies in place or reported their policies to ISBE (a list of school districts' bullying policies can be found
).

2. In June 2010, lawmakers passed the Illinois Prevent Student Violence Act. The law was considered to be a step forward because it finally defined bullying, which previous state statutes failed to do.

1.
Under the Illinois Prevent Student Violence Act, bullying is
as "any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, direct toward a student or students that has or can reasonably be predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:
  • Placing the student in reasonable fear
  • Harm to student's property
  • Causing substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health
  • Substantially interfering with the learning environment of the student"

To read four more vital facts about Illinois bullying, including schools' anti-bullying policies regarding gay, lesbian and bisexual students, check out Reboot Illinois.

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