Online Learning: A Bullying Refuge
Nearly one in four kids will be bullied at some point in their adolescence, and approximately 160,000 will skip school each day to avoid being bullied. Many students and parents, in search of a safer option, have turned to online learning as a refuge from the bullying experienced in traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
A recent survey by K12, the largest provider of online education for grades K-12, found that bullying is a common factor for many students who choose to enroll in online school. In the survey, conducted last month among parents with children enrolled in K12 Network Schools, 21% of all parents (31% of high school parents) said that they joined K12 because their child was bullied.
While online learning is just one way of dealing with bullying, many parents and students find it to be an extremely effective solution. Of those parents who enrolled due to bullying, 91% said that online school has been “very helpful” in dealing with the bullying issue. Additionally, parents whose children attend K12 due to bullying noted other benefits, with 95% saying students are safer and more secure, 90% citing academic benefits, and 76% claiming students benefit from improved focus.
Behind those statistics are thousands of real students, and their families, who experienced the pain of being bullied firsthand, and who have come out on the other side, happier and healthier.
Some were bullied for their appearance, like Rob, an albino student. While he was once subjected to stares, name-calling, and physical violence, now Rob attends school online at Tennessee Virtual Academy. A talented rapper, his experiences have inspired his music and he’s already released two tracks, one of which deals with bullying.
While verbal bullying is most common, all too often, there’s also a physical component, as was the case for Shannon‘s daughter. When the kindergartner began coming home with scrapes and bruises, courtesy of a playground bully who threw rocks inside of snowballs, Shannon knew it was time for a change.
Unfortunately, teacher intervention can make a difference in bullying, but as Shannon and other parents have discovered, that doesn’t always happen. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, “25% of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying or putdowns and consequently intervene in only 4% of bullying incidents.” Sometimes, they can even be part of the problem, as was the case for Kathy’s daughter Monika, who was bullied by teachers and students alike due to her epilepsy and Asperger’s syndrome. Monika’s grades suffered and she was afraid to go to school until Kathy enrolled her in Wisconsin Virtual Academy. Today, she’s excelling in school, with goals to graduate and attend college.
These are just a few of countless stories shared by students and parents who have struggled with bullying and found an escape in online learning, but there are many more students who still deal with bullying on a daily basis, and suffer academically, physically, mentally, and emotionally as a result.
October is National Bullying Prevention month and throughout this month we’re doing our part to raise awareness about the problem of bullying and help put an end to it. But we need your help.
Want to get involved?
Start by signing the pledge to raise awareness in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month. Then, help us spread the word by giving High Fives for Bully-Free Lives and sharing your pictures and the pledge on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #High5BullyFree. Our goal is 10,000 high fives and with your help, we know we can get there!
Ashley MacQuarrie began writing professionally more than ten years ago and has covered education, technology, current events, pop culture, and other topics. A former homeschooler, she studied English and Film & New Media, graduating with a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University. Ashley has classroom experience working with children who have autism and other special needs. She has also tutored students from kindergarten through college and taught English to teens and adults at a language school in London.