The problem of school bullying has become a hot topic in recent weeks after a number of high profile cases of young people committing suicide after bullying incidents.
In 2007, about 32 percent of students ages 12-18 reported having been bullied at school during the school year, according to a school crime survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Bullying generally is defined as an attack or intimidation with the intention to cause fear, distress or harm by an individual or group usually repeated over time that involves an imbalance of power. The act of bullying can take various forms, including physical, verbal and psychological acts.
With increased access to and use of technology, cyberbullyingÃ‚ is a growing concern. Cyberbullying has been defined as an aggressive, intentional act by an individual or group using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.
The beginning of a new school year reminds us of the everyday risks that school-age children face and in turn the growing liability exposure facing parents and schools.
For example, a recent Chubb survey of parents of school-age children found that more than two-thirds (67 percent) agreed that todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kids are exposed to more risks than they encountered during their own childhoods.
However, the same study revealed that parents tend to focus on severe but rare incidents, rather than everyday risks like bullying.
Some 38 percent ranked kidnapping/abduction as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“traditionalÃ¢â‚¬ risk that concerns them the most, above car accidents (30 percent) and harassment/bullying (22 percent).
For technology-related hazards, parents listed online predators as the top threat (38 percent), followed by identity theft (25 percent), cyberbullying (18 percent) and sexting (14 percent).
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just parents that are dealing with how to manage this risk. School districts increasingly are facing lawsuits due to their alleged failure to take action when notified of bullying incidents.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes that since 2001, more than half the states have enacted legislation to combat bullying. But NCSL also observes that state policies vary widely in how they address bullying.
A new student risk guide by Chubb offers tips on back-to-school safety and helps parents protect their kids against these risks.
The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) lists the numerous Web resources available for training and information on combating bullying and school violence.