A survey done by a central Virginia group shows that reports of bullying in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are lower than the statewide average. But a similar study done by the University of Virginia shows bullying is a big problem in other parts of Virginia.
A research team at UVA's Curry School of Education collected surveys from almost 44,000 middle school students from all over the state. Half of those students said bullying is a problem in their school.
The study's lead investigator did say that overall the reports were positive and that the data didn't suggest bullying was worse in Virginia than in other states.
The Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative that serves Charlottesville and Albemarle County says numbers from their surveys are significantly lower. The project has been administering what they call "school climate surveys" since 2009. Those show there's been a 26 percent reduction of student-reported bullying over the past four years.
"It's not just 'boys can be boys, girls can be girls;' it's just the norm within our school that this is how we treat people. We know that addressing a positive school climate means that there's a caring adult in every school for every child," said June Jenkins, the project's director.
Jenkins says that it is difficult to compare results by survey. This fall the initiative will start using a peer support survey - an idea it says came from UVA.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Safe School/Healthy Students is planning events throughout the month to raise awareness on the issue.
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