Half of Sixth-Graders Bullied

Nearly half of urban sixth-grade students say they were harassed at least once in two-week period, a new study found.

The most common incidents involved name-calling, kicking and shoving.

"These findings are important because they show that many more kids are affected by bullying both through their own personal experiences and by what they see happening to their classmates than previously estimated," said lead research Adrienne Nishina of UCLA's Department of Education.

The side effects should interest parents and educators, too.

The bullying is related to negative attitudes toward school, lack of engagement in class, and fewer positive experiences in school, Nishina and colleagues conclude.

Children who reported getting picked on expressed increased humiliation and anger, while students who saw a classmate getting picked were more likely to mention anxiety and dislike of school.

"Students were bothered by all types of harassment incidents they personally experienced -- for example, being the target of insults, physical aggression, or rumors," Nishina said. "But they were more concerned about and felt sorrier for peers who encountered verbal rather than physical forms of hostility."

The researchers questioned two separate groups of more than 90 pupils each. The results are detailed in the latest issue of the journal Child Development.

"It appears that a shared 'it also happens to others' rather than the unique' it only happens to me' plight can alleviate certain types of emotional distress, while it can also increase others, such as anxiety," Nishina said.

Educators should stress violence intervention with all students, not just those who are most victimized, Nishina suggests.