Not All Bullying Considered Equal, Survey Finds

Teenage Girls Bullying
(Image credit: © Andriy Petrenko |

While most American adults are concerned about bullying, they don't seem to see all forms of bullying as equally damaging, according to a new survey, which found there is less concern about students being socially isolated by their peers.

More than 2,000 adults were surveyed about bullying this past May in the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Ninety-five percent said bullying that makes a student afraid for his or her physical safety should prompt school officials should step in. Meanwhile, 81 percent called for schools to take action when a bully humiliates or embarrasses another student and 76 percent said a student spreading rumors should spur intervention.

However, just 56 percent said schools should step in if a student is isolating another socially. Even less (48 percent) said that behavior should even be considered bullying.

"The key finding from this poll is that adults don't see behaviors across the bullying spectrum as equivalent," Matthew Davis, director of the poll, said in a statement.

"This is concerning because isolating a student socially is considered to be a form of bullying, and a dangerous one," he added, noting that isolation is sometimes linked to episodes of violence and teen suicide.

"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.

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