Poll: Supermajority of Americans Believe Youth Bullying is more Prevalent Than Ever

POLL: SUPERMAJORITY OF AMERICANS BELIEVE YOUTH BULLYING IS MORE PREVALENT THAN EVER

First of its kind survey from the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Workplace Options reveals troubling finding

WPO Poll Results (click to view or download)

Raleigh, N.C. (Feb. 8, 2015) – A new national poll shows that bullying is seen as more of a problem for young Americans today than ever before – and that parents are seriously conflicted when it comes to teaching kids how to appropriately respond.

The poll, commissioned as a joint project between Workplace Options and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, found that 64 percent of American adults believe bullying to be more prevalent among young people today than it was during their own childhood. With the proliferation of social media, text messaging, and other forms of instant communication, the threat and reach of bullying has expanded.

 “Youth bullying is not an issue that only impacts kids,” said Alan King, president of Workplace Options, the world’s leading integrated employee well-being provider. “Nothing happens in isolation. It’s a serious concern that affects parents, businesses, and the community, too. The results of this poll show that as a whole, we have a long way to go to curb this problem.”

Teaching Kids about Bullying

Respondents were split on how to teach kids to best handle bullying situations that involved either online or in-person threats. According to the poll:

-          53 percent of respondents said children should be taught to notify an authority figure when faced with bullying.

-          24 percent said direct confrontation was the best response.

-          Males (31 percent) were much more likely to recommend direct confrontation than females (13 percent).

-          And eight percent said ignoring the problem was the best way to handle bullying.

“Parents and educators need to regularly check in with youth about bullying behavior,” said Sean Kosofsky, executive director for The Tyler Clementi Foundation, a leading national organization working to end online and offline bullying. “Young people need to be taught respect, empathy for others, and to resist the temptation to use technology to be cruel. Youth and adults should not be bystanders to bullying; they should be Upstanders and report abuse.”

“The key to progress is education and intervention. Bullying can leave emotional scars for decades. Adults should not assume bullying is innocent teasing” he added.

The Bystander Dilemma

One of the most difficult decisions for adults is when to intervene in a youth bullying scenario. Results of the poll show that when family is not involved, most adults are keen to turn a blind eye:

-          69 percent of respondents said they would intervene if a bullying situation involved a family member or someone they personally know.

-          But just 44 percent said they would intervene if they saw a scenario that did not involve a personal acquaintance.

Taking Action: Rethinking Anti-bullying Training

Workplace Options and the Tyler Clementi Foundation are partnering to create a free training program for businesses that teaches employees how to discuss, address, and intervene in bullying issues with today’s youth. The program is being created with input from Dr. Dorothy Espelage at the University of Illinois, one of the top anti-bullying researchers in the world. It will debut and be made available to companies looking to educate their employees on this issue in the summer of 2015.

Other interesting results of the national poll include:

-          50 percent of respondents have experienced or witnessed bullying in their workplace.

-          More minority respondents (75 percent of Hispanics; 74 percent of African-Americans) than white respondents (60 percent) believed that bullying is a more serious problem for youth today than in the past.

-          Bullying is largely seen as a “not in my backyard” issue – 64 percent of respondents believe bullying is more of a problem today than in the past, but just 12 percent believe it is a serious problem for youth in their own county.

The poll was conducted from January 16-19 among a national sample of working adult Americans by Public Policy Polling. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percent.

For more information on the poll results, please visit www.workplaceoptions.com. For more information on the training program under development by Workplace Options and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, please contact Workplace Options through the company website.

About Workplace Options

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive people and professionals. The company’s physical, emotional, and practical employee well-being services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness coaching.

Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider. Global service centers in North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Japan, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom support more than 46 million employees in over 34,000 organizations across 200 countries and territories. To learn more, visit www.workplaceoptions.com.

About Tyler Clementi Foundation

The Tyler Clementi Foundation (TCF), guided by the life and story of Tyler Clementi, is committed to ending youth bullying, both online and offline. The organization promotes safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, and their allies.

Through educational partnerships, research, public dialogues and awareness programs, TCF fosters empathetic, constructive discussions of respect and dignity for youth and families, at all levels of society. The organization envisions a world that embraces all members of society with human dignity and unconditional love regardless of sexual orientation or differences, real or perceived. To learn more, visit www.tylerclementi.org.