A new national survey shows that there has been a sharp drop in children’s bullying in the last five years. Experts believe that anti-bullying programs are having an impact.
The study, published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed that the percentage of children who reported being bullied went from 22 percent in 2003 to 15 percent in 2008. The percentage of kids reporting assault, even from a sibling, went from 45 percent to 38.4 percent.
In the study 2,030 children, ages 2 to 17, were interviewed in 2003, and in 2008 the same questions were asked to 4,046 subjects. 10 to 17 year olds were interviewed directly about forms of violence and victimization they experienced; for children under 10, their parents or primary caretakers were asked the questions.
Professor David Finkelhor, the lead author of the study, said he was encouraged by the data. “Bullying is the foundation on which a lot of subsequent aggressive behavior gets built.”
Anti-bullying programs received funding increases after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. One of the largest initiatives to date is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program which is found in schools across the country. The program works to introduce changes in the school, in the community, with the individual, and in the classroom. Olweus helps establish a bullying prevention coordinating committee, conducts committee and staff training, develops individual intervention plans for involved students, posts and involves school staff rules against bullying, develops partnership with community members to support the school’s programs and works on many other initiatives.
The study published this week showed that the biggest decline in bullying was found among children from low-income households. Marlene Snyder, director of development for Olweus, said that the findings are consistent with Olweus staff’s observations. Many of the grants to implement anti-bullying programs went to large inner-city schools where crimes were high and economic conditions low and Snyder said that, “When those communities have had the money, they could be successful.”
The new research didn’t address the bullying because of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network said that this type of harassment hasn’t declined but remained the same between 2001 and 2007.