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Adults See Some Teen Bullying as Less Serious: Survey

FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- While U.S. adults believe that bullying is a major health problem for children, they have different views about which types of bullying behavior should spur schools to take action, a new survey finds.

In the nationwide poll of more than 2,100 people 18 and older, 95 percent of respondents said schools should take action if one student makes another student afraid for his or her physical safety.

Eighty-one percent said schools should step in when someone humiliates or embarrasses another student, and 76 percent believed intervention should occur when someone spreads rumors.

Only 56 percent of respondents said schools should take action when students socially isolate a peer, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital poll, which was conducted in May.

The survey also found that 90 percent of respondents said that threatening another student's physical safety is bullying, 62 percent said embarrassing or humiliating a student is bullying, 59 percent said spreading rumors about a student is bullying and 48 percent said isolating a student socially is bullying.

"The key finding from this poll is that adults don't see behaviors across the bullying spectrum as equivalent," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine as well as of public policy, said in a university news release.

"This is concerning because isolating a student socially is considered to be a form of bullying, and a dangerous one," he noted. "Isolating a student socially may be linked to episodes of school violence and also teen suicide."

Twenty percent of high school students report that they have been the victims of bullying, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As school starts, this is the perfect time of year to have conversations about how each school can find solutions to the problems of bullying and address this important childhood health problem," Davis said.

More information

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has more about bullying.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Sept. 17, 2012

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