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Bullying facts: Sifting through the hype for a clear picture

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RELATED: 5 bullying myths – what you don't know

But what’s actually going on with bullying in America? 

At Modern Parenthood, we’ve been following the daily flow of bullying-related news items from around the country. But we still have questions: How prevalent – honestly – is bullying in American schools? Has online bullying taken over the lives of teenagers? What should schools (and state legislators, for that matter) do to stop bullying? And while we’re at it, what’s the definition of bullying, anyhow?

Turns out the answers aren't as straight forward as you might think.

Over the past few weeks, we've been reaching out to child development experts, educators and bullying researchers to ask them about these issues. We’ve checked out a number of academic studies on bullying, too. (And there are a lot of them.) In future posts, we’ll share some of what we’ve learned – about anti-bullying initiatives, anti-bullying laws, cyberbullying and various other aspects of what turns out to be a sprawling, complicated topic. (For a preview, check out our Top 5 Myths About Bullying.)

Here's the general picture:
Almost everyone we interviewed agrees that bullying is a problem. As the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in its 2009 policy on youth violence prevention, there's a lot of research that connects bullying to other acts of violence, as well as depression, decreased physical health and long-term psychological challenges. Researchers who study bullying often note how surprised they are to interview adults who have crystal-clear, troubled recollections of incidents of bullying that took place decades earlier.

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