School kids cite widespread bullying

Bullying represents a pervasive reality for students in grades 6 through 10, a national survey reports.

Among the more than 15,000 students surveyed in public and private schools throughout the United States, 10 percent said they had been bullied by other students at least once a week. Another 13 percent acknowledged having bullied other students, and 6 percent described themselves as both victims and perpetrators of bullying. In the study, published in the April 25 Journal of the American Medical Association, bullying included physical attacks, verbal threats or name-calling, rumor spreading, and exclusion of a person from group activities.

Larger proportions of boys than girls reported bullying others and being bullied, according to a team led by psychologist Tonja R. Nansel of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md.

Earlier research found that frequent involvement in bullying accompanies a range of behavior and emotional problems. Researchers need to explore school-based programs to reduce bullying, Nansel and her coworkers say.

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences for Science News since 1984. He writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues.