Putting Education Reform To The Test

School Bullying May Not Be As Big A Problem As You Think

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Is bullying on the rise? What's happening in your schools?

Is bullying epidemic in schools?

A new documentary wants to raise awareness, but a Wall Street Journal piece calls it a “panic.”

Increased coverage has raised sensitivity to the issue. The U.S. Department of Education has set up a website offering advice and resources.

Social media makes it possible for more intrusive bullying.

But the WSJ essay from Nick Gillespie argues that by objective measures, kids are safer and better-behaved than when he was in school. Anti-bullying rules, he argues, can treat minor slights the same as major offenses.

But is America really in the midst of a “bullying crisis,” as so many now claim? I don’t see it. I also suspect that our fears about the ubiquity of bullying are just the latest in a long line of well-intentioned yet hyperbolic alarms about how awful it is to be a kid today.

I have no interest in defending the bullies who dominate sandboxes, extort lunch money and use Twitter to taunt their classmates. But there is no growing crisis. Childhood and adolescence in America have never been less brutal. Even as the country’s overprotective parents whip themselves up into a moral panic about kid-on-kid cruelty, the numbers don’t point to any explosion of abuse…

Kids might be fatter than they used to be, but by most standards they are safer and better-behaved than they were when I was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. Infant and adolescent mortality, accidents, sex and drug use—all are down from their levels of a few decades ago. Acceptance of homosexuality is up, especially among younger Americans. But given today’s rhetoric about bullying, you could be forgiven for thinking that kids today are not simply reading and watching grim, postapocalyptic fantasies like “The Hunger Games” but actually inhabiting such terrifying terrain, a world where “Lord of the Flies” meets “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” presided over by Voldemort.

What’s the reality in your child’s school? How concerned are you about whether classmates might target your son or daughter for ridicule? What kinds of stories have they told you about the blackboard jungle?


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