Bullying in schools shows greatest decline in ten years

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COLUMBIA - A survey done by the U.S. Department of Education showed the greatest decrease in bully reports since 2005.  

The survey showed a drop in reported bullying cases from 28 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2013.  

These decreasing statistics have also proven to be true for Missouri schools.  

According to the Missouri School Violence Hotline, the number of bullying reports has decreased from 394 in 2011 to 259 in 2014.  

Licensed Psychologist Colton Miller said he believes bullying in schools may be decreasing, but also may be taking a different direction.

"Mostly what we see now is the online bullying typically through Facebook or Twitter," Miller said. 

Miller said he believes even though the numbers may be going down, he has seen an increase in his clients reporting cyberbullying.  

"Now one concern I see with social media is the anonymous sites such as Yik Yak where people can say whatever they want," Miller said. 

He said this may be due to the amount of media and technology that children are exposed to now.  

"Children don't come out of the womb being bullies, they've learned that," Miller said. "That behavior can be unlearned, but it takes a lot of people involved to help a child who has become a bully." 

Natasha Johnson, Jefferson City social worker and parent, started an anti-bullying organization called Show Me- Just and Caring Communities.

She started the group on Facebook in 2013 after learning about the suicide of a middle school girl who had been bullied. 

Johnson said she would like her program to be implemented in mid-Missouri schools and is working to develop her organization. 

"If I'm reaching out to at least one child, and they grasp onto those lessons that I'm teaching them then that child will eventually share that information with someone else," Johnson said.  

Her current program is called "Youth Talks" and is a peer-to-peer program that allows older students to mentor younger children.  

She said she hopes that by having older children as role models, younger children will learn how to have good social skills and empathy. 

"Our older kids can share their experiences with bullying and how they overcame that," Johnson said.  

Johnson planned to present her organization to several Mid-Missouri school boards as she develops more support for her organization. 

More information about how to handle bullying can be found at StopBullying.gov

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