MIAMI – Florida schools ranked third in the nation for having the lowest bullying-incidence rate only following the District of Columbia and Delaware, according to a Wallethub analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released on Monday.
The CDC defines bullying as "unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youth, who are not siblings or dating partners, which involves a real or perceived power imbalance." The definition includes actions such as "making threats, spreading rumors and excluding someone from a group."
Diana Polk, a spokesperson for Wallethub, couldn't comment on whether or not the low bullying-incidence rate in Florida was related to a lack of reporting. Florida schools also ranked 30th on pupil-teacher ratio, 49th on teachers' credentials and 39th on safety.
Lowell Levine, the founder of the Stop Bullying Now Foundation, said Florida has a huge problem with underreporting of bullying incidents in schools, which is a "serious public health problem." He attributes this to victims' fear, teacher ratio and school administrators who "want to protect the school's reputation and funding."
The analysts also considered 24 other areas including test scores. Florida ranked ninth on reading, 17th on mathematics, 39th on the median American College Test score and 46th on the median Scholastic Aptitude Test score.
Florida schools ranked 26th overall in the nation.
Massachusetts had the highest overall ranking in the nation after scoring high marks in areas such as math and reading. The state's schools were also the safest in the nation.
Florida was also worse than New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Maine, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Washington, Delaware, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, Montana, Indiana and South Dakota.
Florida was better than Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Utah, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, South Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, District of Columbia, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Analysts used data from several government agencies including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Center for Educational Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.