Bullying and alcohol and marijuana use have decreased in Connecticut’s public high schools, says a federal survey on school safety and crime.
The survey is published by the U.S. departments of education and justice.
Almost one in five Connecticut students — 18.6 percent — reported experiencing bullying on school property in 2015. That was down from 2013, when 21.9 percent reported being bullied.
Electronic bullying of Connecticut students also decreased, to 13.9 percent compared to 17.5 percent in 2013. Connecticut implemented a new “cyberbullying” law in 2011 that makes on-line statements subject to academic disciplinary proceedings.
A Trend CT report from last year showed Connecticut’s bullying rate was above the national average, but the recent figures show it has fallen below the national average of 20.2 percent. Factoring in margins of error, the figures are very close, within .04 percentage points.
Nationally, the survey found gay, lesbian and bisexual students were bullied at a higher rate than heterosexual students, both in person (34 vs. 19 percent) and electronically (28 vs. 14 percent).
Bullying was defined as “when one or more students tease, threaten, spread rumors about, hit, shove, or hurt another student over and over again.” Electronic bullying could take place “through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting,” according to the report.
Reports of sexual assaults increase
Additionally, the survey reported that, while reported crime on campuses across the U.S. is dropping in general, reports of sexual assaults have increased substantially over the last several years, reaching 6,700 reports in 2014. Increased reporting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Advocates and educators have regularly said that victims may have been reluctant to come forward in the past, fearing social backlash from peers or that the university would not take their cases seriously in order to keep sexual assault numbers low.
Alcohol and marijuana use by students decrease
The survey reported alcohol and marijuana use among high school students decreased in Connecticut.
Reported alcohol use among Connecticut students fell to 30.2 percent in 2015, a decrease from 36.7 percent in 2013. Marijuana use decreased similarly, from 26.1 percent in 2013 to 20.4 percent in 2015. Alcohol use now is reported to be at a 10-year low for Connecticut high school students.
One in 15 students threatened or injured in school
In 2015, 6.7 percent of Connecticut high school students reported being threatened or injured in school with a weapon. The survey asked students if they had been threatened or injured “with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property.”
Firearms incidents remain low
Possession of guns in Connecticut public schools was in line with the national average at 2.8 incidents per 100,000 students, compared with 2.9 incidents per 100,000 students nationally.
There was a dip in Connecticut school-related gun incidents in 2013, with seven reported incidents. The number increased slightly to 15 incidents in 2015.
Figures in the survey for guns on school property were reported by schools.