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School Violence - Bullying

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The April 1999 Columbine shooting spree and other occurrences of school violence triggered greater efforts to curb bullying in schools. Bullying, which includes a range of behavior including teasing and threats, exclusion from social activities, and more physical intimidation, has been widespread in American schools. It was often considered a normal part of growing up. When bullying repeatedly surfaced as a cause of deadly school violence through the 1990s, parents and schools took a renewed interest in the consequences of bullying and how to restrict it.

Studies in the 1990s showed that bullying was far from harmless and actually posed serious lasting effects. Victims of bullying suffered significant negative social and emotional development. In the short term victims suffered from low self-esteem, poor grades, few friends, and had school attendance problems. Such emotional problems as depression and anxiety could also develop and last a lifetime. In addition, those doing the bullying often progressed to more serious aggressive behavior when not confronted about their actions.

Schools responded with aggressive antibullying programs and instituted stricter rules and discipline. Discipline was enforced through monitoring student behavior in all parts of the school grounds by school staff. Some new school programs taught anger control, ways for a victim to cope with bullying, and overall greater appreciation of student diversity in a school. Police also became more interested in threatening behavior at schools. Many school districts that adopted these measures reported significant declines in aggressive behavior. Web sites about bullying and its effects were also created to help students as well as provide support to school staffs.

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