A new report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer says bullying at public schools is at an all-time high.
The report, titled “Safe and Supportive Schools: A Plan to Improve School Climate and Safety in NYC,” presents a review of current data related to school safety. A separate report reveals operational failures in how the city reports violent incidents in schools to the state and evidence of underreporting incidents.
“Schools should be sanctuaries where every child feels safe and supported, but all too often, when students need help, they don’t receive the care they need,” Stringer said. “We need to improve our school climates with a significant, systemwide investment in order to unleash the potential of every child in this city.”
Stringer is calling on the city to make school bullying a priority, supporting all students through small-group advisories. He also wants to see school-based mental health services expanded.
Among the startling statistics on bullying, the report found that in 2017, 82 percent of students reported that their peers harass, bully or intimidate others in their schools, up from 65 percent in 2012. One in five students say they personally do not feel safe in or around their schools.
Students were handcuffed in more than 1,800 incidents, including 120 cases involving children age 12 and under, during school arrests. Most of those students were Black and Latino.
The report also revealed that many schools are operating with a lack of social services. There is only one guidance counselor per 375 students and only one social worker per 612 students in the public school system. In the 2016-17 school year, 725 schools serving students across all grades —45 percent of all schools—had no social worker at all.
The issue of school bullying came to the city’s attention last October when an 18-year-old boy stabbed two 15-year-old boys in a classroom in the Bronx, killing one.
Abel Cedeno claimed that he was on the receiving end of relentless bullying by fellow students, Matthew McCree and Ariane Laboy. Cedeno pulled a switchblade out of his backpack and stabbed McCree and Laboy, leaving McCree dead. Cedeno faces manslaughter charges and is free on bond while he awaits trial.
“My son was no bully,” said Louna Dennis, mother of McCree. “My son was never a bully. My son never had words with the accused killer before he took my son’s life.”
Department of Education officials say the report may be inaccurate citing concerns over student privacy and multiple schools being housed in one building in many cases. The DOE also reportedly said that police data do not match what Stringer’s report says.