KEANSBURG - A new state report says that bullying in New Jersey's public schools is down. Some parents see this as a huge improvement over last year, but others are questioning the school districts' self-reporting.
Patricia Cleary believes bullying has gone down based on the number of calls to hotline numbers. The Department of Education says bullying incidents last school year fell 36 percent from the year before.
The state credits prevention programs, a clear definition of bullying, an outline of criteria for reporting, and support and coaching to districts.
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But despite the report, other parents and students told News 12 New Jersey the bullying problem has not diminished at all.
Patricia Brown says she knows parents with children who are still being bullied and questions the self-reporting of school districts. "I think they'll say anything not to get bad press," Brown says.
Brown says her 13-year-old, Samantha, became severely depressed after being bullied. "They hit her, slapped her, pulled her hair, they shoved her into a locker," she says. "They took her books and threw it in the woods by school."
"I tried staying home a lot," Samantha says. "I tried telling my mom that I was sick so I could stay home."
The seventh-grader is now being home schooled, and the Browns say much more still needs to be done to fight bullying.
In Monmouth County, Long Branch had the highest number of bullying cases reported last school year. Asbury Park was the second highest.