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US schools plagued by bullying as sexual assault reports surge on college campuses – report

US schools plagued by bullying as sexual assault reports surge on college campuses – report
Bullying is a major problem at US schools, according to a new report which found that students are often shoved, hit and kicked by their peers. It also states that reports of sexual assault have more than tripled on university campuses over the past decade.

The study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Justice Department, released Tuesday, examined school crime and safety in US schools.

It found that one out of every five middle and high school students has complained of being bullied. Specifically, 21 percent of students aged 12-18 reported being bullied in 2015.

The research examined students grade-by-grade, finding that "in the spring of 2014, about 15 percent of third-graders reported that they were frequently teased, made fun of, or called names by other students."

In addition, 22 percent of third-graders were "frequently the subject of lies or untrue stories," while 14 percent were "frequently pushed, shoved, slapped, hit, or kicked." Fifteen percent were frequently excluded from play activities on purpose.

Meanwhile, around 15 percent of fourth-graders and 7 percent of eight-graders reported being bullied "at least once a month," the report states

The figures were even more disturbing for gay, lesbian and bisexual students, with 34 percent of those identifying as LGBT complaining of bullying, compared to 19 percent who identified as heterosexual.

The report also found that black students are disciplined more frequently than other students. In 2012, 15 percent of African-American students received out-of-school suspensions, compared to just 6 percent of all students.

While figures from the past decade indicate that bullying seems to be on the decline overall, study author Lauren Musu-Gillette says there remain "areas of concern in terms of bullying and rates of victimization being high."

"We are seeing a long-term decline, but we still want people to be paying attention to areas where rates are still high," she said, as quoted by AP.

While bullying is going down, however, sexual assaults appear to be on the rise. The study found that such reports have more than tripled on college campuses over the past decade.

Sexual assault reports jumped from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 – a 205 percent increase. However, Musu-Gillette warned that it’s not clear whether the number of actual sex crimes has increased or whether victims now feel safer reporting them to authorities.

In addition, although some positive findings were revealed in the report – including a decrease in students carrying weapons and consuming alcohol – NCES acting commissioner Peggy Carr said "there is much work left to be done."

"The data show that many students do not feel safe at school and are victimized physically, verbally and emotionally," she said.