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Report says despite efforts, bullying continues

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- There is some new and unwelcome news about bullying. A report by the U.S. Justice Department finds that despite ongoing efforts to stop bullying among children and teens the issue continues to persist.

The report says one in five middle and high school students report being bullied. Local experts say it shows this problem isn’t going away, and more needs to be done to address it both at school and home.

According to the study, more than 20 percent of kids aged 12-18 still report being bullied; a statistic that doesn’t surprise some parents.

“Not really, I mean bullying is everywhere,” said Kassandra Foust, a parent of a student at Herron High School, “no matter if you’re an adult or a kid.”

Foust says her son was bullied at his last school and says with so much focus on bullying, kids these days know what’s going on.

“I definitely believe the kids understand the whole bullying concept,” said Foust, “I think they’ve definitely pushed that to the point to where the kids understand and know.”

That observation is leading some experts to question why the problem isn’t getting better more quickly.

“It’s like a forest fire and we’re holding a garden hose on a forest fire,” said Tonja Eagan of the Social Health Association of Indiana. She says there just aren’t enough resources to fix the problem, adding it’s one that has to be addressed from multiple angles.

“Adults, schools, parents, bus drivers, custodians, [and] everybody that interacts with kids has to get on the same page and focus on kindness,” said Eagan.

She also says kids who bully others may be more likely to end up on a dangerous path.

“Research shows that if a child is a bully at the age of 8, they’re thirty times more likely to have a criminal record than someone who isn’t a bully,” said Eagan.

The study also found significantly higher rates of bullying for teens that identify as LGBT, compared to teens who are heterosexual, giving experts more cause to call for greater focus on the bullying epidemic.

The report also addressed the number of campus sexual assaults which it says has risen significantly during the past several years, but experts say that number is likely higher because victims are more comfortable reporting those kinds of assault than they used to be.