A new study has found that one out of every four middle school students in Massachusetts has endured bullying at school, and 16 percent of high school students reported being bullied. The study, by the state Public Health Department, was released Thursday.
Study findings also reveal that bullies and victims are more likely to be exposed to violence at home. Students who said they had been involved in bullying, either as perpetrator or victim, were five times more likely to report they had been hurt physically by a family member.
"We have to really redouble our efforts, I think, and make sure that kids are aware and thinking about this behavior as something that's not normal and not OK," said Bridgewater State University professor Elizabeth Englander, who is also director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center.
"I think that there's something of a snowball effect when it comes to behaviors like bullying. When students see other students being bullied, when they see that there is social success and popularity associated with being a little bit mean and nasty, when it feels normal to them, then I think that that tends to reinforce it, and the behavior tends to happen more and more," she said. "What we really have to do is break that cycle."
About 6,000 students in 138 public schools participated in the study, which was conducted in 2009.
The results of the survey will help the state implement its new anti-bullying law.
With reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press.
This program aired on April 22, 2011.