Every seven minutes, a child is bullied. This disturbing statistic is garnering attention during National Bullying Prevention Month, which brings awareness to the issues of school violence and abuse each October.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21 percent of students reported being bullied on school grounds during the 2015-16 school year. One-third of these students disclosed they were bullied at least once or twice every month. Of this group, 10 percent reported being bullied once or twice per week, and 4 percent reported being bullied almost daily. Only 43 percent of all bullied students notified an adult about the incident.
Even worse, 59 percent of teens have been bullied away from school grounds. With the ubiquity of social media, cyberbullying allows for online harassment of victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means bullying exerts a bigger toll than ever, due to its expansive digital presence.
A recent WalletHub report reveals Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Michigan, and Wyoming have the highest levels of bullying incidents in the country.
And bullying isn’t the only danger students face at school. Violence, though trending downward over the past few decades, still plagues schools across the country. Nearly 1.1 million “serious offenses” in public schools were reported in the 2015-16 school year, including physical attacks or fights, thefts, use of weapons, and sexual assaults. Even more shocking, about 35,000 of these offenses were committed with a weapon, firearm, or explosive device, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Education.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed more than one in five high school students have been in a physical fight and about 16 percent of high school students carried a weapon in 2017. The survey also found nearly 7 percent of students avoided school for at least one day because of safety concerns—a trend that has increased since 1993.
No wonder then that more than one-third of parents fear for their child’s safety at school, according to a survey by Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for educators. Furthermore, twice as many low-income families question their child’s safety at school (48 percent) compared to affluent families (24 percent).
To solve the school bullying crisis, Heartland recently introduced a model that would fast-track bullied students out of dangerous schools. Heartland’s Child Safety Account (CSA) program would allow children experiencing bullying, harassment, or other forms of physical or emotional violence to easily transfer to another school—public, private, or virtual. Under Heartland’s proposal, the parents of victimized children would control state funds in a CSA account that could be used for tuition at other public, private, or virtual schools. The funds could also be used for homeschooling expenses, tutoring, and educational therapies. (The full brief on CSAs is available here.)
Implementing Heartland’s CSA model would ensure that all students, regardless of their parents’ social or financial status, would have the opportunities they need to avoid bullying and abuse, allowing them to reach their full potential in a safe learning environment. During National Bullying Prevention Month, let’s take the steps necessary to make this dream a reality.
What We’re Working On
Bullying Statistics Show Missouri Needs Child Safety Accounts
This Research & Commentary by Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson looks at a new WalletHub report that lists Missouri as having the third–biggest high school bullying problem in the United States. The report notes 23.3 percent of Show Me State high school students report being bullied on school property. Another 19.4 percent of Missouri high school students report being bullied online, while 6.4 percent of Missouri students missed school out of fear of being bullied. Benson says it is time for Missouri to enact Heartland’s CSA program, before its bullying problems grow even more severe.
Energy & Environment
Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” is the process of extracting natural gas and oil situated several miles below ground. Over the past decade, fracking has increased the output of these two vital energy sources by 40 percent and 85 percent, respectively, and the fracking industry now supports nearly three million U.S. jobs. This Policy Brief by Benson and Heartland intern Linnea Lueken outlines the basic elements of the fracking process and then refutes the four most widespread fracking myths, providing lawmakers and the public with the research and data they need to make informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing and energy extraction.
Budget & Tax
Nebraska Should Avoid ‘Millionaire Taxes‘
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses the negative effects of a “millionaire tax.“ “Nebraska’s tax policy should focus on bringing in enough revenue to cover the costs of necessary functions of government in the least economically distorting way possible. Income taxes are among the most disruptive factors affecting economic growth. Lowering income taxes removes a burden from businesses and individuals, encourages capital to flow into a state, and bolsters job creation,” Glans wrote.
Dental Therapists Can Heal Michigan’s Dental Shortage
In this Research & Commentary, Government Relations Manager Charles Katebi examines a proposal in Michigan that would expand access to dental care for patients in rural communities and inner cities. “Dental therapists have proven to be safe, effective, and affordable providers of dental care in America and abroad. Lawmakers should free these qualified professionals to treat all Michiganders, especially those who are most vulnerable,” wrote Katebi.
From Our Free-Market Friends
State Fiscal Rankings
Last week, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University released its fifth study ranking the 50 states according to their financial condition. The study analyzes five dimensions of state finances: cash solvency, budget solvency, long-run solvency, service-level solvency, and trust fund solvency. Fortunately, most states are fiscally stable, not including their unfunded pension liabilities. The top five most fiscally solvent states are, in order, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Florida, and Oklahoma. The bottom five states are Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and, lastly, Illinois.
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