Child advocates encouraged Indiana schools reported more bullying incidents for 2017-18 school year

New numbers show uptick in electronic bullying

INDIANAPOLIS--  New numbers show Indiana schools are reporting more of their students have been bullied, months after a Call 6 Investigation found most schools didn’t report a single bullying incident.

Per a 2013 law, Indiana public and charter schools are required to report the number of incidents to the Indiana Department of July 1 of each year.

This week, the Indiana Department of Education released new bullying numbers from the 2017-2018 school year.

READ | Dozens of Indiana high schools report 0 bullying incidents - but parents disagree

Indiana schools reported 5,604 bullying incidents for the 2017-2018 school year, a 24 percent increase from the 2016-2017 school year when there were 4,516 reported bullying incidents.

The incidents are grouped by physical, verbal, written/electronic, social/relational and combination bullying incidents.

Schools reported a huge increase in written/electronic bullying with 433 incidents in 2016-2017 and 2,446 in 2017-2018.

Mindi Goodpaster, a child advocate and policy analyst with the Marion County Commission on Youth, said it’s actually a good thing the numbers are up because it means more schools are reporting accurately rather than just reporting zero.

Call 6 Investigates found nearly 60 percent of Indiana schools reported zero bullying incidents for the 2016-2017 school year.

READ | Holcomb signs anti-bullying law prompted by Call 6 Investigation into misreported numbers

47 percent of schools reported zero bullying incidents during the 2017-2018 school year, which is encouraging to child advocates and lawmakers who pushed for schools to report the truth.

“Come on, let’s be real about it,” said Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), the author of the anti-bullying law. “There’s no way you have 3,000 to 4,000 students in a high school and have no incidents of bullying.”

Our investigation prompted a new state law, HEA 1356, which allows the Indiana Department of Education to audit schools for how they report bullying and require IDOE to send annual reminders to schools about their duty to report bullying.

Davey Combs, a 7th grader at a Lutheran school, said he’s a victim of bullying.

"Sometimes I think they do it because they think they're being funny," said Combs.  "It's hurting people's feelings and it's not a healthy environment and it's not good for their education to get bullied. "

Combs is working with Rep. Greg Porter on a new tweak to the law that would require private schools, like the one Combs attends, to also report bullying incidents just like public and charter schools.

“I think I can do it,” said Combs.

The Call 6 Investigation prompted a new law, HEA 1356, that requires the Indiana Department of Education to send out reminders to schools about their bullying reporting duty.

The law also allows the Indiana Department of Education to audit schools to ensure they’re reporting bullying accurately, and also requires IDOE survey schools to find out what’s preventing them from reporting accurately.

The survey report will be shared with the legislature and posted on the IDOE website.

Click here to see how many incidents your school reported.

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