April 20, 2010 marks the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting massacre. Since the tragedy, American school administrators, teachers, parents and children have learned a lot about the warning signs that may provoke the violent and deadly behavior that occurred in Littleton, Colorado in 1999.
According to The Huffington Post, a recent study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that the percentage of children who reported being physically bullied over the past year had declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to under 15 percent in 2008.
Lead researchers were encouraged by the results as bullying and being bullied are two telltale signs of future aggressive behavior inflicted upon oneself or on others.
Following the Columbine incident, schools saw an increase in funding for anti-bullying programs designed to stop, prevent and alert students and teachers to such behaviors. While these programs have been effective, given the results of the U.S. Department of Justice study, there still remains a tremendous amount of work to be done to continue to keep schools and students safe.
The Huffington Post did point out that the survey did not specifically address the bullying of young people for reasons related to sexual orientation, which gay-rights groups consider to be a pervasive problem. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network said its research indicates this type of harassment remained stable between 2001 and 2007.
Furthermore, earlier this year, teenager Phoebe Prince from Massachusetts hung herself after suffering the ridicule, bullying tactics and taunts by her fellow classmates. While this case may be extreme, with the increase in social networking groups like Facebook and Twitter, it is much easier for kids to communicate their taunts and chides on a much greater scale then simply writing a slur on a gym locker or making a passing comment in the school hallway.
Therefore, educators and mental health therapists from around the country are urging government funding agencies and school systems to not only continue to support anti-bullying campaigns, but also to incorporate them into regular school curriculum and update them with new information gleaned from research studies and unfortunate incidents, like the case of Phoebe Prince.