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Study: School bullying has dropped by more than half since 2005

A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that kids, teachers, school staff and policymakers are aware of the serious harm done by bullying in school. The great news is, the study found that fewer than half as many students reported experiencing bullying in 2014 than had in 2005. These were largely attributed to state anti-bullying laws being passed, more research being funded, evidence-based practices -- and increased awareness of the issues.

According to NPR, the study considered around 250,000 annual survey responses by Maryland fourth through twelfth graders. Students in each grade were asked to say whether they had experienced bullying-type behaviors -- rumors, threats, physical violence or negative posts online -- within the past 30 days. The researchers found significant improvements in most grades.

"Occasionally, there is some good news out there," says one of the study's authors. "There are some things that are improving."

Interestingly, the students perception of whether bullying is a problem in their schools did not change. In 2005 and again ten years later, 48 percent said yes even though the other evidence suggested otherwise. In other words, students' individual experiences suggested bullying is down, but their impression of what others were experiencing did not change.

Is it just in Maryland, or is this part of a larger trend?

That's all very well for Maryland, but what about the kids down here in Florida? We are one of the states that have overhauled both school district policies and our laws against at least some types of bullying.

A University of Southern California professor who was not involved in the study believes the changes represent part of a larger trend. "There's strong international data showing these reductions not only in schools, but in communities and families," he said. "Child abuse, violence, murder rates, they've hit record lows. There's something normative happening in societies, not just schools."

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