Today, in partnership with State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nancy Grasmick, I declared this week, May 24th through May 28th, “Maryland Bullying and Prevention Week.” This morning, to kick off the week, I joined students and educators at Pikesville Middle School to discuss the importance of preventing and raising awareness of bullying in our schools.
Last school year, 2008-2009, the Maryland State Board of Education reported 1,686 incidents of bullying, representing 2 reports filed for every 1,000 children in the state. It is likely that the extent of bullying is underreported because of the need for victims or parents to take the initiative to file a report. The most reported incidents of bullying involve middle school students between 11 and 14 years of age. While a little over half of these incidents are committed “just to be mean” or “to impress others,” 24.3 percent were motivated by actual or perceived personal characteristics, such as physical appearance, sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, or sexual orientation.
Continued dedication to bullying intervention is an essential element to Maryland’s educational mission and our state’s future. Informing children of harassment’s long term impacts and providing them the tools to take action against it is a vital responsibility of our communities and schools in our effort to prevent bullying.
We have asked schools across the 24 school districts in the State to put aside time to discuss bullying prevention. I hope that students, educators, parents and community leaders can join us this week to take steps to confront bullying in our schools.