Parents Don't View Bullying as Top Concern

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According to a survey by the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) survey parents concerns vary and bullying isn't always their concern. SPIFFY took 380 South Hadley parents at fall open houses this year, ranked teen alcohol and drug use and Internet behavior and safety as top concerns across all three age groups.

The third-highest concern for parents of seventh- and eighth-graders was bullying. That is compared to the third-highest concern for parents of high school students was supervised and unsupervised teen parties and for the parents of fifth- and sixth-graders, the youngest age group whose parents were surveyed, the third- and fourth priorities were tips for raising teens and mental health. Bullying ranked as fifth in importance for parents of fifth- and sixth-graders and for high school students

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Yet 30 percent of students who responded to the 2005 survey reported being bullied, which was higher than the Massachusetts state average. The survey also reported 16.4 percent of students seriously considered attempting suicide, while 14.6 percent reported attempting suicide.

"I think it showed despite all the perception of bullying the biggest concern was drug and alcohol abuse," said Superintendent Gus Sayer to Mass Live reporter Rosie Walunas . He stated that he was not familiar with the SPIFFY survey, but that the results reflected concerns that drug and alcohol abuse, which had previously been decreasing in the school district, was again on the rise.

According to a 2008 Internet Safety Technical Task Force report, "Along with the positive aspects of Internet use come risks to safety, including the dangers of sexual solicitation, online harassment, and bullying, and exposure to problematic and illegal content." The report states that while sexual predation and increases in risky behavior is a large concern, "Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline."

This survey has demonstrated that parents concerns vary and despite the suicide and suicide attempts, many parents are still more concerned with teen alcohol and drug use and Internet behavior.

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