TEEN HEALTH Published October6, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

State Laws against Bullying May Be Working

Bullying and cyberbullying may be reduced if states would decide to make laws against them, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Columbia University discovered that there's a link between the reduction of both traditional and cyber bullying cases and the existence of state laws against them.

For the study, the team worked with data coming from more than 60,000 public and private high school students in around 25 states. The students' data were then compared to at least 16 components of anti-bullying guidelines developed by the Department of Education, as well as the state laws.

Based on the results, overall, bullying and cyber bullying cases dropped by an average of 24% and 20%, respectively. However, the rates can greatly vary among the participating states. For example, South Dakota has the highest reduction at more than 25%, but that's a huge difference from only 14% of Alabama.

Furthermore, the team also discovered that certain anti-bullying components give more potency to the laws. These included a very clear description of what bullying is and the possible penalties that may be applied to such violations. Nevertheless, it takes at least one of these components to give a state's anti-bullying law some clout.

According to Mark Hatzenbuehler, an associate professor of the university and the co-director of Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health, the study doesn't establish the cause and effect and that state laws don't resolve all bullying issues. However, the results imply that they play a huge part in the solution. He further added that their study would be helpful in determining which of the laws are most effective in reducing bullying.

The National Center for Educational Statistics revealed that at least 22% of the students are bullied each school year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meanwhile, expressed that bullying could lead to increased risk of poor mental health including depression. 

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