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Guam's bullying data comparable with mainland

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It may be preliminary data, but statistics show that bullying on campus is consistent with national numbers.

"[The] majority of the bullying that does occur tends to be more verbal, relational-aggression type of situations; and of course it does go into the more physical more so with boys," explained Judiciary of Guam's Safe and Drug Free Schools Project Manager Joleen Respicio. She said a survey of more than 6,000 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders shows that bullying is happening on school campuses, and local numbers are consistent with stateside numbers.

Just like national statistics, however, the numbers may actually be higher. "Again, reporting is another thing all together. It's often hard to, right now we have not been able to gauge how many are actually reporting it, but on the national level more than 50% of students do not report bullying incidents out of fear," Respicio said.

At today's roundtable discussion on school safety, administrator for student support services Chris Anderson says anti-bullying programs, even though they're in early implementation stages, are already having a positive effect saying the proof is in the numbers. In School Year 2010-2011 a total of 938 subtotal incidences were reported, with the following year having 450, and presently, only 89.

Questions were also raised as last week kicked off the Safe School Ambassadors program - an initiative that enables students to stop the bullying amongst themselves. But what happens when the ambassador becomes the target?

"One of the cardinal rules is that the student shouldn't try to intervene in a situation that's not part of their relational group,' said Anderson. "So if these aren't her close friends or within her network of influence or just the ambassador speaking generally on the ambassador they shouldn't be engaging in that. What they should be doing is getting assistance or informing another adult about the situation so they can intervene."

Statistics also show that 43% of bullying takes place on the playground or athletic grounds. DOE deputy superintendent of assessment and accountability Rob Malay admits the agency has to work harder on addressing this. "If 97% of the incidences are taking place at the hallway next to the cafeteria maybe we ought to put more personnel there supervising," he said.

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