New survey: More than 40% of Tucson students are bullied - Tucson News Now

Survey: More than 40% of Tucson students are bullied

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A new survey, from the University of Arizona's Crossroads Collaborative, on bullying reveals nearly half of Tucson area students have been bullied. But, you might be surprised by the reasons our kids are being targeted.

It used to be your glasses or the clothes you wear, or if you stood out for good grades, but a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona finds sexual orientation and weight are the number one reasons students are getting picked on.

66 percent of students reported being bullied for sexual orientation which is tied with 66-percent for being overweight.

A professor who works with a number of youth groups believes the lack of certain study courses is creating a harmful gap in tolerance. Adela Licona helped university researchers with the student survey that revealed the reasons behind bullying.

She's also studied the positive effects of educational materials, such as a documentary commonly shown in schools to promote tolerance among students. Licona believes a range of ethnic studies courses and even comprehensive sex-ed classes would help kids to better understand one another.

"We know for example youth that youth in Arizona don't have the broad access to knowledge about human sexuality, youth would like to have comprehensive sex ed for example, and I think that knowledge is power," she said.

This survey asked more than 400 students from nearly a dozen schools whether they had been bullied, how often, and whether they've been bullies themselves. The findings also show students who were bullied were likely to target others as well. Researchers believe that's the victims trying to fit in.

"There are a lot of reasons kids are being bullied due to factors that they can't change about themselves, it's just inherent in them.  It's not that they're teasing others, like wearing a blue shirt when they could wear a red shirt, but it's characteristics about themselves that is who they are," said Ryan Watson with Crossroads Collaborative.

The report finds Tucson is pretty much on-par when it comes to national stats. It also makes recommendations for students to speak up and for schools to form anti-bully policies and intervention programs.

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