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Study: Half of high school students admit to bullying

By the CNN Wire Staff
A recent study finds nearly half of high school students claim they were victims of bullying during the past year.
A recent study finds nearly half of high school students claim they were victims of bullying during the past year.
  • Bullying is just as common at public and private schools
  • Violence is much less common outside of public schools
  • One in 10 students admit to bringing weapons to school

(CNN) -- Half of all high school students say they have bullied someone in the past year, with nearly as many saying they have been the victims of bullying, according to a new study released this week.

The study of the "Ethics of American Youth" released Tuesday surveyed more than 40,000 high school students and has been conducted every other year since 1992.

The study by the non-profit Josephson Institute of Ethics also found that one-third of all high school students say that violence is a big problem at their school, and nearly one in four say they do not feel very safe there. The problem is much less pronounced at private schools, where the figures drop to less than 10 percent in those two categories.

Weapons are also a part of the mix with 10 percent of all students saying they took a weapon to school at least once in the past 12 months, and 16 percent admitting that they have been intoxicated at school. More than half admit to hitting someone within the last year because they were upset.

"The combination of bullying, a penchant toward violence when one is angry, the availability of weapons, and the possibility of intoxication at school increases significantly the likelihood of retaliatory violence," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Institute.

The study was released on the same day that the Obama administration issued new guidelines for educators on how to address the problem of bullying and harassment in schools.

Federal officials warned that school administrators risk being cited for contributing to a pattern of civil rights violations that could, in extreme cases, lead to a cut in federal funding, if they fail to properly deal with harassment based on gender, race or other issues.

"If the saying, 'sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me' was ever true, it certainly is not so today," said Josephson. "Insults, name calling, relentless teasing, and malicious gossip often inflict deep and enduring pain."

The issue of harassment gained prominence this year after a spate of suicides by students who were being bullied.

President Obama has called for greater awareness of the problem, saying the nation must "dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up."

The guidelines were sent to thousands of schools, colleges, universities and school districts around the country that included examples of bullying and harassment cases that constituted violations of federal civil rights laws.

The White House said it would host a conference next year on preventing bullying and harassment.

CNN's Ed Payne and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

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