The UA Crossroads Collaborative released survey data results on causes of bullying and its impact in Tucson schools during a presentation at Tucson High Magnet School Auditorium on Monday.
In collaboration with Nuestra Voz, a YWCA Racial Justice Program for local youth, Crossroads Collaborative released information on educating and informing youth about bullying, funded by the Ford Foundation.
A total of 403 youth, ranging from grades five to 11, and from 11 different schools in the Tucson community, were surveyed by Nuestra Voz during the 2008-2009 school year. Through the survey, students were asked how frequently they personally experienced bullying, and how often they have witnessed or engaged in bullying.
According to Crossroads Collaborative, bullying is defined as “aggressive words that emphasize an imbalance of power.” Thirty-nine percent reported that they were bullied because of their skin color, 66 percent were bullied due to sexual orientation, and overweight students made up 66 percent.
Stephen Russell, an interim director of John and Doris Norton School, helped with the findings of the results, which were derived from a range of study presented in the new research brief, “Bullying in Tucson Public Schools: Rates, Reasons, Prevention Programs, and Recommendations,” released by the Crossroads Collaborative.
The brief included a review of the youths’ experience in Tucson, what they want and need to know about bullying and how adults can help.
While identifying reasons of bullying as important, Russell said it was necessary to make sure people understood what is defined as bullying.
“There is a lot of bullying in the community, whether they bully or get bullied, and a lot of people don’t know what bullying is,” Russell said.
During the event, Howard Glasser, executive director of the Children’s Success Foundation, talked about the different methods of how to approach kids.
“Instead of medication, you can talk to kids in certain ways,” Glasser said. “Through methods of teaching adults how to respect kids in a way that nourishes them in the premises that everyone has greatness.”
Glasser talked about how children learn from the way people interact with them, which causes them to be more sensitive and to “stand their grounds and defend what they believe.”
After the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, Rep. Ron Barber created the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding to help generate a positive image out of a negative situation.
Through the fund, Barber has focused on the issue of bullying from elementary school through high school with two main goals: focusing on the prevention of bullying and suicide, along with aiming to increase public awareness about mental health issues.
In previous years, there has been an increase in bullying that is both harmful and violent, Barber said.
“There are certain people targeted in bullying situations, for example kids who are constructed to be gay, minorities or overweight,” he said.
Through the fund, Barber said he hopes to reach student, parents and teachers with the message that it is possible to stop bullying.
“It is possible to prevent it,” he said, “And it’s important for people to recognize what is bullying.”