Bullying in Pennsylvania

Bullying is a harmful and widespread epidemic in Pennsylvania schools. No school or school district is unaffected by this issue.

Pennsylvania does have a statewide anti-bullying law, however, it is woefully inadequate in addressing school violence. Amended in 2008, the Pennsylvania School Code of 1949 simply requires that school districts adopt a policy which deals with bullying. Yet, the law does not prescribe really what should be in that policy. Pennsylvania state law leaves huge gaps in addressing the issue with weak or non-existent: reporting requirements, comprehensive definitions, effective remediation, awareness of the policy, and education for prevention. In 2011, the United States Department of Education found Pennsylvania to have one of the weakest and most insufficient anti-bullying laws in the nation.

Bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment are vastly under-reported. In the 2013-2014 school year, the largest school district to report zero bullying incidents was West Chester Area School District (11,659 students, 11th largest in PA). In the same year, the School District of Philadelphia (137,674 students) reported only 33 cases. Overall for the 2013-2014 school year, there were 235 school districts throughout the state which reported zero incidents of bullying. All but 12 districts reporting between 0.01%-1% of their students experiencing bullying that year.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s biannual national study of high school students in 2009:

19% of Pennsylvania students were bullied on school property in the past year.

13% of Pennsylvania students seriously considered suicide in the past year.

10% of Pennsylvania students were in a physical fight on school property one or more times in the past year.
(With 30% of Pennsylvania students in a physical fight on or off school grounds in the past year)

10% of Pennsylvania students have been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.

7% of Pennsylvania students have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse.

5% of Pennsylvania students did not go to school for at least one day because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
(In the 30 days before the survey)