Student bullying more of a problem on P.E.I., survey finds

Almost one in three P.E.I. students reported being bullied in the latest COMPASS survey. (CBC - image credit)
Almost one in three P.E.I. students reported being bullied in the latest COMPASS survey. (CBC - image credit)

An extensive survey on youth health on P.E.I. has found that bullying is a particular problem for students in Grades 7 to 12 — and it's worse here than elsewhere in the country.

The annual COMPASS survey found 31 per cent of students had been bullied in the previous 30 days, compared to a national average of 19 per cent.

P.E.I. is one of five provinces that participates in the COMPASS survey, developed and delivered by the University of Waterloo. This year the survey included 35 schools, and 79 per cent of students at those schools participated.

The most common reason identified for the bullying was appearance, at 10 per cent, followed by weight at eight per cent.

"It is natural to see children and youth being more concerned about things like appearance," said Laura Lee Noonan, manager of health promotion with P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office.

"I think we need to understand a little bit more from the youth themselves around what particularly is driving that."

Appearance is also connected to students feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable at school, with more than one in four reporting that as an issue.

In addition to the provincial results, individual schools receive reports on their results that they can share with their staff, their home and school association, and even the wider community.

These are not just school issues, Noonan pointed out, and the larger community needs to discuss them.

Nutritional problems

The survey also found P.E.I. youth are less likely to be regularly eating fruits and vegetables.

Only 39 per cent were eating fruit daily, with 45 per cent being the COMPASS average; 40 per cent were eating vegetables, compared to the COMPASS average of 48 per cent.

While consumption of vegetables was low across all age groups, fruit consumption declined as students got older.

Forty five per cent of Grade 7 students reported having fruit daily, but only 33 per cent of Grade 12 students.