Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sharp drop seen in children’s bullying

This is great news. Of course, it is great from a moral standpoint, but also from a practical view. Bullies are more likely to end up in jail as adults. Victims of bullying can be adversely affected into adulthood. Almost all violent criminals were abused as children.

updated 4:58 p.m. ET, Wed., March. 3, 2010
NEW YORK - There’s been a sharp drop in the percentage of America’s children being bullied or beaten up by their peers, according to a new national survey by experts who believe anti-bullying programs are having an impact.

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, found that the percentage of children who reported being physically bullied over the past year had declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to under 15 percent in 2008. The percentage reporting they’d been assaulted by other youths, including their siblings, dropped from 45 percent to 38.4 percent.

The lead author of the study, Professor David Finkelhor, said he was “very encouraged.”

“Bullying is the foundation on which a lot of subsequent aggressive behavior gets built,” said Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. “If it’s going down, we will reap benefits in the future in the form of lower rates of violent crime and spousal assault.”

Finkelhor noted that anti-bullying programs had proliferated and received funding boosts following the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

“There is evidence these programs are effective,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re seeing the fruits of that.”

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“The decline is not happening everywhere,” she said. “It’s in schools where adults really understand how detrimental this conduct can be and have made a conscious effort to bring these numbers down.”

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Along with bullying and assaults by peers or siblings, the new study also found declines in several other forms of child victimization, including sexual assaults and emotional abuse by caregivers. It found slight increases in dating violence, robbery targeting children and the witnessing of violence among other family members.

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Overall, the findings by Finkelhor and his co-authors were positive — and came on the heels of a major federal study documenting an unprecedented decrease in incidents of serious child abuse. That report, the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, found that incidents of serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse dropped by 26 percent from 1993 to 2005-06.


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