Vernberg and colleagues used questionnaires to survey students on aggression and victimization, asking them about abuse, which ranged from being kicked or grabbed in a mean way, to a child telling lies about a classmate.
Because children often under-report their own aggression, they were asked to circle the names of classmates who hit, kicked, punched others or spread mean rumors, among other things.
On average, boys scored higher than girls on peer-reported aggression, while scores on being victims of bullies did not significantly differ by gender.
Jeffrey Jenson, chief investigator in a Youth Matters project that focused on aggression and substance use prevention at 28 elementary schools in Denver, said the Kansas study was a significant contribution to research on school bullying and discussed ways to stop it.
"The focus doesn't have to be on bullying, per se, but on developing the necessary skills to help children in situations where bullying might arise," said Jenson, an endowed professor of children and youth at risk and associate dean of research at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work.
A second approach is to change the classroom culture by hanging banners with anti-bullying messages, putting on skits and plays that explore aggressive interactions, and training teachers to look for signs of bullying and send a message that it's not acceptable, Jenson added.
"There are some successful outcomes from programs that work to reduce aggression and victimization in schools," he said. "Changing the overall climate is an approach we've used that has shown good results with elementary school kids."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests that school anti-bullying campaigns always involve students' familie
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