Addressing the Problem of Juvenile Bullying
Bullying, a form of violence among children, is common on school playgrounds, in neighborhoods, and in homes throughout the United States and around the world. Often occurring out of the presence of adults or in front of adults who fail to intercede, bullying has long been considered an inevitable and, in some ways, uncontrollable part of growing up. School bullying has come under intense public and media scrutiny recently amid reports that it may have been a contributing factor in shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, in 1999 and Santana High School in Santee, CA, in early 2001 and in other acts of juvenile violence including suicide. Bullying can affect the social environment of a school, creating a climate of fear among students, inhibiting their ability to learn, and leading to other antisocial behavior. Nevertheless, through research and evaluation, successful programs to recognize, prevent, and effectively intervene in bullying behavior have been developed and replicated in schools across the country. These schools send the message that bullying behavior is not tolerated and, as a result, have improved safety and created a more inclusive learning environment.
A recently published report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on the U.S. contribution to the World Health Organization’s Health Behavior in School-Aged Children survey found that 17 percent of the respondents had been bullied "sometimes" or "weekly," 19 percent had bullied others sometimes or weekly, and 6 percent had both bullied others and been bullied. The researchers estimated that 1.6 million children in grades 6 through 10 in the United States are bullied at least once a week and 1.7 million children bully others as frequently. The survey, the first nationwide research on the problem in this country, questioned 15,686 public and private school students, grades 6 through 10, on their experiences with bullying. In a study of 6,500 middle school students in rural South Carolina, 23 percent said they had been bullied regularly during the previous 3 months and 20 percent admitted bullying another child regularly during that time (Olweus and Limber, 1999).
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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