Report: Michigan ranks worst for bullying
By: Bob Brezing
MICHIGAN - A new study focused on our schools, state laws, and suicide rates have labeled Michigan as the worst state in the country when it comes to bullying.
WalletHub.com conducted a national analysis using 17 metrics and data from the Center for Disease Control, ranking states on data like costs of truancy to schools, instances of cyber-bullying and suicide attempts.
Michigan's overall rank in the survey was the worst, but Michigan ranked 5th in "Bullying Prevalence" and "Bullying Impact & Environment." Michigan ranked #17 for having anti-bullying laws on the books. To see all of the rankings click here.
Louisiana, West Virginia, Montana and Arkansas rounded out the worst five. The best three states were Vermont, North Carolina and Massachusetts. Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington were not included because of a lack of data.
Michigan ranked 3rd for having the highest percentage of high school students bullied on school property and 5th for highest percentage of high school students bullied online. Michigan did not rank in the top five for suicide attempts.
WalletHub analyst, Julie Gonzalez told Fox 17 News 10% of Michigan High School students have attempted suicide. Saying some of most concerning areas are cyber-bullying and a lack of LGBT protections.
"In Michigan we're seeing about 39% of districts enumerate LGBT protection," Gonzalez said. "Cyber-bullying is not implicated as a criminal sanction in Michigan. I think some more preventative actions and tougher penalties could definitely help this entire study out."
Educational professionals believe there's an ever growing number of reasons students are leaving traditional brick-and-mortar schools, opting for online educational services, even home schooling to rid themselves of bullying once and for all.
"So we do have a growing number of students for support for the LGBTQ population or they identify with that population," said Heather Ballien, principal for the Great Lakes Cyber Academy. "It's an issue and they're having issues with that in the traditional setting."
Christ Buck, Executive Director for the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan believes the numbers show Michigan is the most outspoken when it comes to bullying, not the worst.
"Michigan is an amazing state, they are definitely addressing it and you can see how all public schools have to have policies that address bullying," said Buck. "We are hoping that school districts will work hard on that to educate teachers, administration, and parents."
Buck says the first step in solving the problem resides in the hands of parents being invested in everything their students are doing.
Scroll through to see the worst states to live in: