Published Online: October 13, 2015
Published in Print: October 14, 2015, as Student Bullying

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Student Bullying

"Associations Between Anti-Bullying Policy and Bullying in 25 States"

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Even a basic state anti-bullying law is associated with significantly lower in-person and cyber-bullying reported in schools, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

In states that included at least one of 16 federally recommended anti-bullying components in their anti-bullying laws, researchers found high school students were 24 percent less likely to report being bullied generally and 20 percent less likely to report being bullied online than students in states whose anti-bullying laws did not comply with federal guidance.

Lead author Mark L. Hatzenbuehler and colleagues at the University of Iowa at Iowa City and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta analyzed reports of bullying, both in school and online from nearly 60,000 high school students in 25 states that passed anti-bullying laws between 1999 and 2011. All 50 states now have such laws, though some are considered stronger than others.

About 1 in 5 students reported being bullied at school, ranging from a low of just over 14 percent of students in Alabama to a high of nearly 27 percent in South Dakota. Cyberbullying was less common, with 15.5 percent of students nationally reporting being bullied online.

The three basic components of state laws that were associated with lower levels of reported bullying were:

  • Describing the illegal bullying behaviors;
  • Describing schools' scope of jurisdiction to restrict bullying; and
  • Requiring districts to develop and implement their own local policies on bullying.

Vol. 35, Issue 08, Page 5

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