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Harassment in School Affects Majority of Elementary Students

ss schools we surveyed," said Tarshis.

He and his co-author, Lynne Huffman, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, surveyed 270 children in grades three through six in two schools in California and one in Arizona to determine if the 22-item questionnaire yielded statistically accurate results. Students were scored based on their responses - never, sometimes or often - to such statements as, "At recess I play by myself," "Other students ignore me on purpose," and "Other students leave me out of games on purpose."

Tarshis and Huffman then compared the results to those of other, more complicated surveys intended to identify bullies and victims. They also administered their survey twice to 175 of the students to determine if the results were consistent over time. They found that the responses were highly reliable, and the survey was easily understood and completed by even the youngest students in the sample.

"We found it particularly interesting that these indications of victimization and bullying are apparent at very young ages," said Huffman. "Our hope is that this questionnaire will be utilized by teachers, pediatricians and even child psychiatrists to identify those children needing early and direct intervention."

The stakes are high. Previous research has shown that, without intervention, bullying behavior persists over time: a child who is a bully in kindergarten is often a bully in elementary school, high school and beyond. Such behaviors are not without consequence, though. These career bullies are not only slightly more likely than their peers to serve prison time as adults, they also tend to suffer from depression.

Perhaps not surprisingly, kids who are routinely victimized exhibit higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than do non-victims. Such statistics highlight the importance of being able to identify at-risk kids and assess the
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