Nearly one-third of U.S. schoolchildren in the 6th through the 10th grades have bullied other kids or been bullied, according to the first study of its kind, published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, based on a poll of 15,000 schoolchildren, found that both bullies and their victims are more likely to have psychological or behavioral difficulties -- a finding that underscores the need for schools and society to take action, said the authors of the study.
The study was the first on this subject to survey schoolchildren from a nationally representative cross-section of ethnic groups and urban and rural populations.
"Bullying is something we need to take seriously as a nation," said Tonja Nansel, a researcher with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md., and lead author of the study. "We need not to treat it as a normal part of growing up but as a public health problem."
The study also found that bullying is more common in grades 6 through 8 than in grades 9 and 10; that boys are more often involved in bullying than girls; that boys are more more likely than girls to bully using physical force and girls more inclined to use taunts and spread rumors.
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