There’s been a sharp drop in the percentage of American children who are being bullied or beaten up by their peers, says a new national survey, and its authors believe the decrease reflects the impact of anti-bullying programs.
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, found that the percentage of children who said they had been physically bullied over the past year declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to less than 15 percent in 2008. The percentage reporting they’d been assaulted by other youths, including siblings, dropped from 45 percent to 38.4 percent.
Lead author David Finkelhor, the director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, in Durham, N.H., said anti-bullying programs proliferated after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Jefferson County, Colo. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re seeing the fruits of that,” he said.
The report draws on data from two national surveys involving a combined total of more 6,000 children between the ages of 2 and 17 that were conducted five years apart—the first in 2003 and the second in 2008. For children younger than 10, parents or other caregivers were interviewed. The findings were published last week in the journal Archives of Adolescent & Pediatric Medicine.
The researchers said the biggest declines in various forms of violence were among children from low-income households. The study also found decreases in sexual assaults and emotional abuse by caregivers, but slight rises in dating violence, robbery targeting children, and the witnessing of violence among other family members.
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Bullying May Be Decreasing, Survey Finds