BALTIMORE — A large majority of teenagers hold a very pessimistic view of the United States. Eighty-eight percent say they believe the country lacks kindness, according to a new survey released by “STOMP Out Bullying,” the leading national bullying and cyber-bullying prevention nonprofit organization for kids and teens.
The survey detailed the attitudes of teenagers between 13 and 17 as it pertains to the country’s behavior and the effect it has on bullying among their peers. Nearly all teens— 96 percent— say they believe today’s lack of kindness impacts the way teenagers treat other teenagers. A further, 91 percent of the teenagers surveyed say they believe Americans lack kindness in the way they treat one another.
The survey is being highlighted throughout October, which is recognized as National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
“Whether at school, in front of a computer screen or on digital devices, bullying and cyberbullying are unfortunately more present than ever before,” Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying said in a statement. “We need to continue emphasizing the importance of kindness, which is critical not only to youth character development, but kindness can also make a positive, lasting impact on our world today.”
STOMP Out Bullying advocates for teaching more empathy and kindness among a diverse population of students in schools to create a positive culture, stronger communities and more student leaders, according to Ellis.
Earlier this month, Baltimore County Public Schools held “Bullying Prevention Week,” adorning school walls and its website with slogans like “Be Smart. Don’t Start!”
The campaign featured special activities each day, bullying prevention pledges for students to sign, and a day to flood social media with positive messages as a symbolic blow to cyber-bullying.
“We all need to remind ourselves and each other that we’re always better than bullying,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance, whose student advisory council joined Baltimore County Student Councils several years ago to create Bullying Prevention Week. “Throughout the week, our students [reminded] one another, as well as the larger community to reject bullying by stopping it before it begins. All of us can be smart by opposing bullies and bullying everywhere from the start.”
STOMP Out Bullying officials say there has been encouraging signs of progress in the effort to end bullying. Most teens are confident in their school’s ability to tackle bullying, with 61 percent saying they believe their school handles bullying issues sufficiently, according to the nonprofit’s survey.
Concurrently, teens see themselves as becoming more empowered to stand up and report instances of bullying when it occurs. Nearly two-thirds have reported instances of bullying to a teacher, parent or other authority figures.
Additional findings in the survey included that 45 percent of teens see as much bullying online as they see in person; teens in the U.S. are more likely to report instances of bullying in person than bullying online; four out of five teens have stood up to bullying; and nearly all teens believe that seeing more kindness around them will make them want to act more kindly to others.
Also, boys— 35 percent— are more likely than girls— 27 percent— to see bullying occur more often online than
in person and boys— 22 percent— are slightly more likely to report online bullying than girls— 17 percent.
To help further the organization’s mission of ending bullying, STOMP Out Bullying recently announced a brand new ambassador, KIND the blue elephant, which acts as a symbol for the need to spread compassion and kindness throughout the world.
“It’s not surprising to see why teens have such a negative view of our nation’s behavior, given the onslaught of violence and hostility that we see on a daily basis,” Ellis said. “I urge everyone to raise awareness around bullying prevention and the power of kindness this October, which is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.”