Over Half of Houston Schools Report Zero Incidents of Bullying, Below National Research

National studies indicate that between 22 and 30 percent students in grades K-12 are involved with or experience bullying in some way


Records show that over half of the schools in the Houston Independent School District report zero incidents of bullying, raising questions about how easy it is for students to report that kind of behavior.

News 88.7 obtained public records that break down bullying reports school by school, since Houston ISD plans to launch new ways for students to report bullying on campus anonymously in the new school year. Those include a new app, website and anonymous tip line. Katy ISD has similar plans to add a new feature on its phone app for anonymous bullying reports.

The data reveal that in the 2017-18 school year, over half of HISD schools had zero bullying reports. That includes about a dozen middle schools where bullying behavior often spikes.

Another group of schools — about 12 percent of the district — left the field for bullying completely blank in the district's system. And almost four dozen schools reported just one or two bullying incidents. Altogether, the numbers represent thousands of HISD students who, according to the data, don't experience bullying at school.

HISD spokeswoman Millie Quintanilla said in a statement that HISD has focused on “preventative efforts” to combat bullying in the last 3 years, in particular by creating a department for social and emotional learning.

She said that with that department, they’ve developed trainings and supports to help build relationships on campus, resolve conflicts and other anti-bullying efforts, such as restorative discipline. HISD believes that its new tip line “will increase our supports by providing students with an anonymous way to report bullying,” Quintanilla wrote.

Still, HISD’s numbers are far below what national research indicates, that between 22 and 30 percent students in grades K-12 are involved or experience bullying in some way.

“My guess would be that there's not a good way to report bullying at that school. It's a very scary thing for kids to do,” said Jon Schwartz, who is a counseling psychologist and associate dean at the University of Houston College of Education.

“Schools that are really adept at connecting with their students are doing climate surveys, they're doing focus groups, they're having different ways where it's safe for their students to come forward with their experiences,” he said.

Schwartz added that it's important for teachers, parents and students to all understand what their school's bullying policy is, how it's being followed and to recognize when bullying crosses into civil rights issues, such as racial or other kinds of discrimination.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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