RI Kids Count addresses bullying in schools

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – According to a recent survey by the Rhode Island Department of Education, 24 percent of students in Rhode Island were bullied during a one-year period.

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Rhode Island Kids Count is one of several child advocacy organizations dedicated to helping to understand and prevent bullying in schools.

Eyewitness News This Morning was joined Wednesday by the Executive Director of Rhode Island Kids Count, Elizabeth Burke Bryant. The full interview can be watched in the above video.

According to Bryant, bullying most often occurs on school grounds, meaning inside the building, on the playground, at a school-sponsored event or on the bus.

Bryant stressed the influence of the school climate in relation to bullying, which includes how teachers and students interact and how responsive and accepting schools are of bullying behaviors. Students who feel supported within their school community are more likely to report bullying when it happens, allowing it to be addressed by school administrators.

Across the state, various programs have been put in place to help address the issue of bullying.

Pawtucket schools partnered with No Bully, a nonprofit dedicated to anti-bullying efforts. The school system was the first in New England to do so. Teachers and administrators were trained by the No Bully program to help create a culture of awareness. Since the adoption of the program, bullying in the school system decreased from 59 cases in 2015 to just 20 in 2016.

Moving forward, Bryant believes more schools should adopt programs like No Bully, focusing on creating a positive school climate where students feel safe enough to report bullying when it does occur.

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