Report Provides Figures On Bullying In Schools - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Report Provides Figures On Bullying In Schools

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Over the years Brian Swain has come out of the shadows.

"Bullying by my definition as well as many organizations is someone using a position of power or authority to force someone to do something they may not want to do," he explained.

Bullying is a pain he knows well. Swain was tormented and called names every day starting in elementary school.

"My worst day, I remember it very vividly. I ended up sitting in a teacher's classroom for over 2.5 hours probably crying," Swain recalled. "It made me very scared about what my life was going to be and that was in elementary and middle school."

State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) sponsored a bill that spurred a new report that tracks the incidents of bullying in public schools across the state.

"I was really surprised. I thought that numbers may come back about 1,000, less than 1,000 cases," Ketron said. "And they came in over 5,000 cases."

The report was released by the state Education Department. Officials said 5,478 of the 7,555 cases were confirmed after investigation during the 2012-2013 school year. Of the cases reported, 321 were based on race, color or national origin, 695 concerned sex or gender-based discrimination and 168 involved a student's disability. It's a harsh reality for the victims, but the numbers show less than one percent of the school aged population is affected.

"To counteract all that I started my anti-bullying club," Swain said, "called "Bully Sit Down."'

Now Swain's being called strong and motivating.

"As someone standing up against bullying I'm not going to bully a bully. I'm going to empower people and empower them to do better and empower the victims to stand up for themselves," he said.

Brian's empowering bullies and victims alike to embrace what he's held on to, even in his darkest days.

"Everyone is beautiful and everyone is strong and everyone is unique and there's nothing outside of that," Swain said. "At least in my eyes."

Brian Swain and his club partner with the STARS bullying prevention program. Still bullying is often difficult to define, and there's not always consistency in how districts handle it.  Experts say the good news is that more people are becoming comfortable reporting it.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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