Unfortunately for students everywhere, bullying is often prevalent throughout a child’s educational years — from elementary school to middle school and even into high school.
Between the different educational levels, bullying behaviors appear to be more widespread in the middle school years, but is there a difference in bullying frequency between different kinds of schools: public schools and private boarding schools?
Contributing Factors of Bullying
There are a number of factors that contribute to bullying in schools. More populous schools with a larger mix of students are more likely to see bullying behaviors, as are schools with more peer pressure and schools that tend to be more cliquey. In addition, schools with anti-bullying policies in force tend to see a decrease in bullying behaviors — a major reason to enact anti-bullying policies in the first place.
Public vs. Private
While public schools are more likely to be diverse, public schools are often less accepting than private schools. According to a longitudinal survey of public and private schools, 47 percent of private school students felt the environment was “very accepting” of students from different backgrounds, compared to only 36 percent of public school students.
Private boarding schools also tend to be less cliquey than public high schools. According to the same survey, 52 percent of public school students feel the social scene is “somewhat to moderately cliquey,” whereas only 38 percent of private school students feel their school is cliquey. In addition, 45 percent of private school students feel that groups overlap a lot and that the social scene seems mostly open.
Another independent study found that parents whose students attend public schools reported higher bullying rates (29 percent) than parents whose children attend private boarding schools (22 percent). Minority students were also found to be more at risk of bullying in public schools than private ones.
All in all, factors such as a less accepting environment and higher incidence of social cliques seem to contribute to higher rates of bullying in public schools. On the bright side, both public schools and private boarding schools can benefit from enacting comprehensive anti-bullying policies — and cut bullying down before it can begin.