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KIYC: WalletHub study finds New Jersey’s school bullying issue isn’t improving

The study comes four years after Kane In Your Corner uncovered significant flaws in how New Jersey handles bullying.

Walt Kane

Oct 11, 2023, 9:43 PM

Updated 249 days ago

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There is some alarming news for New Jersey when it comes to bullying in schools. A new study by WalletHub finds the situation has not significantly improved since Kane In Your Corner’s award-winning investigation into the issue in 2019.
The study found New Jersey has the fourth-biggest bullying problem in the country, the fifth-highest percentage of students involved in school fights and the seventh-highest cost of truancy due to bullying.
The study comes four years after Kane In Your Corner uncovered significant flaws in how New Jersey handles bullying. Among them: under the law, cases that might seem like obvious cases of bullying, like a bigger kid repeatedly targeting and beating up a smaller kid, might not be considered bullying. That’s because New Jersey only classifies incidents as bullying if the victim is targeted because of a distinguishing characteristic, such as race, ethnicity or gender. If school officials determine that the incidents were not the result of a distinguishing characteristic, they can chalk the incident up to a “conflict” rather than bullying.
Kane In Your Corner also found that some school districts underreported the number of bullying complaints they received to the state and ignored requirements that they conduct investigations within 10 days of an incident and provide written reports to the parents involved.
Since then, reform seems to be moving slowly. In 2019, in response to Kane In Your Corner’s investigation, Gov. Phil Murphy announced he was forming a new anti-bullying task force to look into improvements. The task force just held its first public hearings about a week ago. They're now inviting comments from the public about how bullying is handled in their districts. Parents are asked to send those comments by Nov. 15.
Written testimony can be emailed to the Anti-Bullying Task Force at ABTF2023@doe.nj.gov.
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