WASHINGTON — Nearly 1 in 4 surveyed U.S. students say they have been bullied in school. That’s an improvement, but the prevalence reinforces just how difficult the problem is to solve.

The survey from 2013 found that 22 percent of students age 12 to 18 said they were bullied.

That’s a 6 percentage point decline from two years earlier, when 28 percent of students said they’d been bullied.

It’s the lowest level since the National Center for Education Statistics began surveying students on bullying in 2005, the Education Department said Friday in announcing the results.

Educators and researchers praised the decline, but said the large numbers of students still reporting that they are victims reflects that the issue is difficult to understand and address, particularly in a world of rampant online social media where malicious statements can be made anonymously and shared quickly and broadly.

Among respondents, 9 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys said they’d experienced cyberbullying either in school or outside of school.

Unwanted text messages were the most common way students said they were cyberbullied, followed by hurtful information posted on the Internet.

Overall, bullying can be physical, verbal or relational – such as leaving someone out on purpose.

Respondents said that being made fun of, called names or being insulted was the most common way they were bullied at school. Being the subject of rumors or threatened with harm was also common.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the news of an overall decline but with a caveat: “Even though we’ve come a long way over the past few years in educating the public about the health and educational impacts that bullying can have on students, we still have more work to do to ensure the safety of our nation’s children.”


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