Primary Sources in Statistics – Oh, and Bullying

The importance of primary sources seems to be lost on people looking for hype. Readers would do well to be more critical in their acceptance of information from hyped-up sources. It would save a lot of us from being labeled skeptics when really we’re just not as gullible.

Today I was doing a little tangential searching on the subject of bullying in school. I’ve seen several people quote a statement to the effect of:

At least 160,000 kids stay home each day because of the threat of bullying at school.

Since I’ve seen the same phrase quoted with different qualifiers (e.g., “As many as 160,000…, ” or, “An estimated 160,000 kids…,” etc.), I decided to do a little investigation.

A person on Facebook quoted this statement from a blog entry. The blog said it was from the “National Association of School Psychologists”.

On the National Association for School Psychologists website, the phrase is found in a PowerPoint presentation, and cites a written piece by Kathleen Vail called “Words That Wound”.

In “Words That Wound”, an essay by Kathleen Vail, Ms. Vail cites the National Association of School Psychologists.

So that path was a dead-end from what can be gleaned via the Internet.

I decided to look for other places that cite this particular statement—and found that it’s used almost ubiquitously, and that numerous authors are given credit for it.

One site cited a book by Fried and Fried written in 1996 called “Bullies and Victims”. In this book, Fried and Fried cite the “National Education Association”.

Assuming that this site refers to a 1995 Survey by the NEA, I’m still at a loss for where this number (160,000) comes from. The closest Survey I can find is this one, completed by the CDC, which addresses physical violence among other things. This, I believe, is where the assessment was garnered.

In the supporting document, the question that can best approach relevance on this topic is question number 15: “During the past 30 days, on how many days did you not go to school because you felt you would be unsafe at school or on your way to or from school?”

Out of the 10904 surveys received, 10212 answered “0 days”, 291 said “1 day”, 206 said “2 or 3 days”, 59 said “4 or 5 days”, and 115 said “6 days”. Out of 10904 surveys, 21 students did not answer.

The summary of the survey indicates nothing about students staying home every day for threat of bullying. Not even close, as far as I can read the data. Granted, I’m not a statistician, but this seems like blatant misinformation.

I am still researching, but it’s interesting so far. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

If you’d like to know my thoughts on the subject, tune in to this video by Steven Crowder

One thought on “Primary Sources in Statistics – Oh, and Bullying”

Leave a Reply