Bullying has been recognized as a widespread problem and the recent instances of bullying highlighted in the media bring this topic to the forefront for Iowans. In response, the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Office of The Attorney General Tom Miller, and Office of The Governor Terry Branstad are working in partnership to provide information and resources to Iowans on the topic of bullying and cyber-bullying.
A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center on Teens and Social Media found that 88% of social media-using teens have witnessed other people being mean or cruel on social networking sites and 15% of social media-using teens say they have been the victim of online meanness. Another study in 2009 sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics who conducted the National Crime Victimization Survey / School Crime Supplement found that 28% of 12-18 year old students stated they had been bullied at school during the school year and 6% stated they had been victims of cyber-bullying.
In light of the alarming statistics these agencies have formed a partnership to continue to educate Iowans and to provide necessary resources to address bullying and cyber-bullying. Resources have been provided to every school district in the State of Iowa, including links to websites containing teaching materials, presentations, safety education kits, and other information for school use in educating Iowa students. In addition, the Iowa Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and Iowa State Patrol Safety Education Officers (SEO’s) are available to provide presentations at Iowa schools on the topics of bullying, cyber-bullying, internet safety, and others. Contact information for the SEO’s was provided to all Iowa school districts so they may arrange for these presentations when it fits with their curriculum. These agencies continue to communicate with each other as instances of bullying and cyber-bullying are discovered. It is vital that state government assist local school districts with appropriate resources to address instances of bullying at the onset, and in-turn prevent the often tragic outcome of negative peer influences.
Online resources for parents are available at www.netsmartz.org, the Iowa Internet Crimes against Children website at www.iaicac.org, the National Crime Prevention Council website at www.ncpc.org, and www.cybersmart.org. These resources represent an important component of an overall school-wide bullying prevention effort. Additional resources can be found on the Department of Education website at http://educateiowa.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1030&Itemid=2911 .
Officials say by striving to reach every Iowa student through our schools we can make a difference and put a stop to bullying in our state.