Financial website Wallet Hub released a study Monday on the states with the biggest bullying problems, and Montana was ranked overall as the 7the worst state in the United States, and worst when it comes to state cyberbullying laws.
The KGVO spoke with analyst Jill Gonzalez about the study and the troubling Montana ranking, particularly the lack of anti-bullying laws on the books.
âUnfortunately, this is a standings where you don’t want to be any closer to the top,â Gonzalez said. âMontana currently sits seventh in terms of bullying issues, especially when it comes to things like anti-bullying laws and the lack of them in Montana. So that’s what could be the most useful. The state needs to see more anti-bullying laws and policies, especially around things like cyberbullying or bullying on property. “
Gonzalez linked poverty to an increase in harassment.
âWe also see things like poverty entering the equation,â she said. âUsually, the poorer a person, the more likely they are to be bullied. They are also likely to know more about poverty, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword. The same can be said with school failure, which is why we hopefully want to put the brakes on a lot of these things. We’ve looked at 20 different metrics, from bullying incident rate, truancy rates for schools, to the proportion of students being bullied online to see how it all goes down.
Gonzalez then moved on to the topic of cyberbullying.
âCyberbullying is also probably the easiest to track,â she said. âOften there is hard evidence of this. So parents can check screenshots (on their kid’s phone or computer) and things like that and hopefully get school officials involved without leaving your kids behind. So as long as you gain confidence with your kids, if they feel comfortable saying things to you like that, the cyberbullying is actually made the bullying, it’s easier to do something about it.
Gonzalez said just contacting school officials about cyberbullying wouldn’t bring the lasting change that only legislation can produce.
Montana ranked worst in the nation in Wallet Hub’s investigation of the existence of effective anti-bullying or cyberbullying legislation.
“The superintendent is not responsible for making the laws,” she said. âSo that would be a separate conversation. Because there aren’t any real anti-bullying laws in Montana, it could be, you know, school to school kind of a bottom-to-top operation that hopefully does. could draw the attention of the authorities down the line.
The KGVO reached out to MCPS Superintendent Dr Rob Watson for anti-bullying policies within the local school system. Click here to read the official policy. Click here for Bureau of Public Instruction policy.