That the perception of bullying and/or victimization has changed across the span of the past three generations and further that the change in perception of the term “bullying” – what actually comprises such – combined with the societal shift toward punishing students for any act of violence, even if in self-defense or defense of others, has increased the willingness of people to be victims, thereby empowering criminal activity.
By extension, that the public education system’s adoption of “zero tolerance” toward fighting in schools, however well-intentioned to minimize bullying, was misused, perhaps unintentionally but misused just the same, to prevent students from fighting in self-defense or in the defense of another.
With the object of the survey being to collect answers from identified differing generations, genders, education levels, etc., the questions were structured to identify such. Following that, the questions were structured to identify which generation had the greatest chance of being punished for defending themselves or another in school. The end group of questions were used to identify which generation had the greatest chance of being targeted as the victim of a personal crime. The survey was left open for two months and had 721 responses. Every respondent answered every question. The responses were then analyzed and compared to see if the hypothesis is supported.
For the purposes of this study, the goal was to differentiate between “generations.” Using the available data, the generations will be sorted by age from 30 & under (born in 1988 or later), 31-50 (born between 1968-1987), and 51+ (born in 1967 or earlier). Using those groups the generational proportions of respondents are:
· < or = 30: 19.14% (for the purposes of this study, this generation will be referred to as “Millennials” even though some of them may be younger than would generally fit into that designation.)
· 31-50: 46.19% (for the purposes of this study, this generation will be referred to as “Gen X”)
· > or = 51: 34.68% (for the purposes of this study, this generation will be referred to as “Baby Boomers” even though some of them may be younger than would generally fit into that designation.)
138 respondents fell into the group of less than or equal to 30 and are included herein as representing the Millennials.
333 respondents fell into the group of ages between 31 and 50 and are included herein as representing the GenXers.
250 respondents fell into the group of equal to or greater than 51 and are included herein as representing the Baby Boomers.
There were responses from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The numbers of respondents outside of North America, however, were so small as to be statistically insignificant.
The government website stopbullying.gov lists twelve behaviors as potential bullying. Each respondent was asked to identify which of those listed behaviors s/he considered “bullying.” The list of behaviors is below in order of average rating/inclusion by all three generations.
Threats / Intimidation (95.5%)
Shoving / Hitting / Physical Assault (95.3%)
Cyber Harassment (threats, name calling, gossip via cyber means) (80.2%)
Name calling / insults (76.9%)
Racist Comments (73.2%)
Homophobic comments (69.7%)
Damaging property / vandalism (69.3%)
Spreading Rumors / Gossip (66.3%)
Sexual comments / suggestions (61.2%)
Exclusion / Leaving someone out (54.6%)
It’s not surprise that such a large percentage of all three generations consider threats, intimidation, shoving, hitting and physical assault to be bullying.
It is significant that cyber-harassment ranks with such a high percentage given that many Baby Boomers aren’t as saturated in the virtual world, or as commonly using “cyber” tools, as the GenX or Millennials are.
It is noteworthy that Name Calling, Racist Comments and Homophobic Comments are clustered together and within a 7% spread of each other. Both Racist Comments and Homophobic Comments could be grouped under Name Calling / Insults, and if that were done, then the ranking for that single bullying behavior would rank, as an average, at 86.6%, right below the threats, intimidation and physical contact items.
In examining the results, it appears that, with the exception of cyber-harassment, Millennials have been the victims of fewer acts of bullying than GenX or Baby Boomers.
Millennials: 40.6% GenXers: 18.9% Baby Boomers: 11.2%
Given that Baby Boomers, in general, didn’t even have cell phones available until they were in their twenties (at least), there was no chance for them to be bullied via cyber means. The availability and saturation of mobile phone technology grew through the GenX years and grew to encompass desktop, laptop, notebook and tablet computers in addition to mobile “smart” phones. Millennials are the first generation to have truly grown up with this technology from the day they were born.
The responses indicate that each of the generations have had an approximately equal exposure to being threatened or intimidated with the percentages ranging from 65.9-70%. However, those same responses show that Baby Boomers had a 60.4% chance of actually being physically assaulted as compared to 59.2% for GenXers (1.2% difference) and 42% for Millennials – an incredible 18% reduction as compared to Baby Boomers. The same ratios are shown for Fighting. Millennials are 18% less likely to be involved in a fight as compared to a Baby Boomer and 15% less likely as compared to a GenXer.
The remaining significant difference shown through the responses reveals Millennials are 11% more likely to be “bullied” through exclusion or being left out as compared to Baby Boomers and 6% more as compared to GenXers.
In virtually every crime category included, Millennials have a lesser chance of being the victim (based on responses) with the exception of every sex related crime.***
For Assault & Battery Millennials reported a 55% lower experience rate as compared to Baby Boomers and 51% less as compared to GenXers.
For Armed Robbery Millenials reported a 50% lower experience rate as compared to both other generations.
For Attempted Murder Millennials reported an 80% lower experience rate as compared to both other generations.
Zero Millennials reported being the victim of Strong Armed Robbery (robbery where no weapon is used) as compared to 3.3% for GenXers and 7% for Baby Boomers.
For Theft of Property Millennials reported a 16% lower experience rate as compared to Baby Boomers and 14% lower as compared to GenXers.
For Vandalism to property Millennials reported an experience equal to Baby Boomers (41%) and slightly lower than GenXers (44%).
For “None of the Above,” meaning that the respondent had experienced being victim of none of the listed crimes, Millennials reported an experience of 29% compared to 19% for GenXers and 16% for Baby Boomers.
***For the majority of the crimes listed, Baby Boomers had the highest percentage of experience. This may be for no other reason than that they’ve lived significantly longer and have, therefore, had a longer time frame in which to be targeted as a victim.
Each respondent was asked to identify which crime or attempted crime they felt they had been victim of in their life. Each crime is listed with the percentage of each generational group that identified having been a victim of it.
Millennials: 9.4% GenXers: 9% Baby Boomers: 6.8%
Sexual assault (inappropriate touching)
Millennials: 34.1% GenXers: 24% Baby Boomers: 20.8%
Sexual assault (any type of penetration)
Millennials: 13.8% GenXers: 6.9% Baby Boomers: 9.6%
Each respondent was asked if they had ever been in a fight caused or instigated by a disagreement, someone calling them a name (or vice versa) or having been threatened. The answer options were YES or NO. The percentage of each generational group that answered YES is shown.
Millennials: 40.6% GenXers: 56.2% Baby Boomers: 52%
Each respondent was asked if they had ever been in a fight while acting in self-defense or in defending themselves against an assault on their person. The answer options were YES or NO. The percentage of each generational group that answered YES is shown.
Millennials: 42% GenXers: 61.3% Baby Boomers: 65.6%
Each respondent was asked if they had ever been in a fight for the purpose of defending someone else. The answer options were YES or NO. The percentage of each generational group that answered YES is shown.
Millennials: 48.6% GenXers: 60% Baby Boomers: 63.2%
Each respondent was asked if they had ever been punished for being involved in a physical altercation (a “fight”) while acting in self-defense or defense of another. The answer options were YES or NO. The percentage of each generational group that answered YES to having been in a fight for either reason AND answered YES to having been punished for such is shown.
Millennials: 52.8% GenXers: 39.3% Baby Boomers: 33.8%
If you examine the YES responses you can see that GenXers were the group with the greatest instance of fighting due to, essentially, talk - threats or name calling.
Babyboomers had the greatest instance of fighting in self-defense or defense of others.
Millennials had the greatest instance of being punished for fighting in self-defense or in defense of others.
The survey results and data analysis clearly demonstrates that Millennials are the most likely generation to have been punished for acting in self-defense or defense of others. This circumstance effectively teaches that generation that it's "wrong" to defend one's self against any type of physical attack/assault.
The survey results also show that the Millennial generation has the greatest instance of being the victim of sexual assaults / crimes. The lower instances of victimization in other crimes may adjust over time as the Millennials live more years and have opportunity to be targeted by criminals.
There is a demonstrated correlation between teaching children NOT to defend themselves and them becoming victims of personal crimes, specifically sexually oriented criminal acts.