Youth Bullying Prevention in the District of Columbia School Year 2017-2018 Report

ReportHealthy SchoolsMar 6 2019

Executive Summary

The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 (YBPA; DC Law L19-167) and its implementing regulations require schools and other youth-serving agencies (including, but not limited to, government agencies, libraries, non-profits, and community centers) to adopt comprehensive anti-bullying policies, implement thorough reporting and investigation procedures, provide training for staff, and maintain and report incident data. The law further requires the Mayor to report to Council, on a biennial basis, the current implementation of the Act and to provide a summary of the status of bullying in the District of Columbia. This report serves to fulfill this requirement for SY 2017-2018. As with the previous iterations of this report (SY 2013-2014; SY 2015-2016), this report provides a detailed summary of each education institution’s engagement with the YBPA.

Key Findings

  • All local education agencies (LEAs) operating in SY 2017-18 have compliant bullying prevention policies. Only two LEAs, both opened in SY 2018-19, have not submitted a compliant policy to the DC Office of Human Rights.
  • Full implementation of the YBPA’s four requirements remains a challenge for most schools. Nearly half of schools (47 percent) report not providing staff training around the YBPA, and more than half report either that their bullying policy is not on the school’s website, or they do not know if it is (56 percent). Although 98 percent of schools responded to the annual YBPA data request, nearly a third (30 percent) did not provide data on bullying incidents. Overall, only 16 percent of District schools are fully implementing all requirements of the YBPA.
  • Self-reported rates of bullying among middle school students and cyberbullying among high school students significantly increased from 2015 to 2017, even as national rates remained stable. According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, middle and high school bullying rates were 32.5 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively; cyberbullying rates were 13.5 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. Rates of bullying among DC students remain significantly lower than overall national rates.
  • Rates of reported incidents on the 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection and the 2018 YBPA Data Collection were significantly lower than self-reported rates on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The CRDC data indicate a rate of 2.5 reports of bullying for every 1000 students, while the YBPA data indicate a rate of 25 reports for every 1000 students among schools that provided incident data.
  • Most reports (41 percent) of bullying received by schools were not attributed to specific personal characteristics. The personal characteristics most often attributed to incidents of bullying were personal appearance (17 percent) and other unenumerated distinguishing characteristics (6 percent).
  • Pilot school climate data show considerable variation across schools’ strengths and needs. School climate data collected from 19 schools as part of the ongoing Improving School Climate in DC project show that while participating schools generally have favorable school climates, there is room for improvement on specific aspects of school climate and for certain subgroups (e.g., transgender students), which vary across schools.