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Fewer Teens are Being Bullied, Study Finds

Update Date: Apr 25, 2014 02:23 PM EDT

Even though bullying has existed for decades and will most likely continue to affect young children and teenagers, more attention has been placed on anti-bullying campaigns. According to a new study, researchers found that American teenagers today are less likely to be bullied than they were a decade ago. This finding suggests that initiatives and programs can be effective in promoting a better school environment.

For this study, the researchers examined four surveys that were given out to middle school and high school students from 1998 to 2010. Each survey reached around 9,000 to 16,000 teenagers from grade six to grade 10. The questions were centered on bullying that occurred in schools within the past two months. Bullying included but was not limited to verbal teasing, insults, isolation, physical pain and sexual harassment.

The researchers found that the rate of students who reported being victims of bullying fell from 14 percent to around 10 percent. The rates of students who admitted to instigating others fell from 17 percent to less than eight percent. The reductions were the greatest in boys. When the researchers examined race, they found that bullying fell by 64 percent for white students and only 20 percent for black students. In terms of age groups, students from grades six to eight had fewer cases of bullying when compared to students from grades nine and 10.

"In recent years, there has been more attention to anti-bullying efforts, such as prevention programs, and responses to bullying have been incorporated into school policies," Study author Jessamyn Perlus, a fellow in the division of intramural population health research with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development stated according to Medical Xpress. "We hope that these prevention efforts, and the additional attention and awareness of the problem of bullying, may be the reason for the decline."

The researchers pointed out that bullying that occurred outside of school grounds was not recorded. In today's society, a lot of bullying occurs via social media, which is known as cyber bullying. Aside from bullying, the researchers examined the rate of children who carried weapons, which could be used defensively. They found that the rate of weapon-carrying did not fall. In 2010, white students were actually slightly more likely to pack a weapon.

The researchers believe that more research into cyber bullying can be beneficial for agencies and schools that plan on creating more anti-bullying programs. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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