Delaware AG: bullying progress may be an illusion

     (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

    (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

    Reported incidences of bullying are down in Delaware schools, but the data may be skewed, according to a report released Friday.

    The 11 percent drop prompted skepticism from Attorney General Matt Denn, who was Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor when he helped draft anti-bullying legislation in 2012 and whose office drafted Friday’s report.

    “The state needs to do a better job accurately tracking bullying incidents so we can accurately monitor our overall progress,” Denn said in a statement.

    Seveal school districts reported dramatic drops in “substantiated” incidences of bullying, including a 100 percent reduction in one case. That led Denn’s office to question whether school climate has actually improved, or whether districts were simply classifying incidences as “alleged” instead of “substantiated.”

    The report recommended the state revisit its data collection system to smooth out reporting inconsistencies between districts.

    It did, however, say schools are doing a better job contacting parents when bullying occurs, although there is still room for improvement.

    Denn and then-Attorney-General Beau Biden crafted two anti-bullying laws in 2012. The first required Delaware’s Department of Education to create a “uniform cyberbullying policy.” The second dealt with how schools report incidences and how well they inform parents.

    This is the second report examining the efficacy of those laws.

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