New study finds social exclusion is most common form of bullying

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — September is National Bullying Prevention Month, and a new study shows that the behavior is likely a much bigger problem than previously believed.

Updated research suggests social exclusion is more prevalent than physical or verbal bullying.

The University of Missouri’s survey also outlines how it can be every bit as painful as getting kicked, punched or slapped every single day.

Dozens of middle and high schools from across the U.S. participated in this research, totaling more than 14,000 students.

The study found that the most common forms of bullying involve excluding peers from group activities and spreading hurtful rumors.

Channel 8 spoke with Casey Thomas, a youth and family crisis peer support specialist from Center Pointe in Lincoln, who has seen the effects of this type of bullying first hand.

“Its so powerful to them,” he said. “They isolate and become depressed, and sometimes, the parents, they aren’t even aware of it.”

He believes social media has only heightened the problem, putting pressure on students to fall in line with their friends.

The team behind the study recommends celebrating individuality instead of sameness at school, saying it could go a long way in preventing further trauma.

Researchers say individuality is what makes people stand out as adults, helping them excel at their jobs and life in general.

Another way to fight bullying is praising students when they use respectful and inclusive behavior.

Reinforcing those skills is every bit as important as math, science and history lessons, according to the study.

Thomas said it’s imperative that kids reach out to their parents, teachers, resource officers and other friends or seek professional help if they are being bullied.

And talking with the child who is doing the bullying can shine a light on a bigger issue, such as abuse at home, he said.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that 20% of students say they’re bullied each school year.

Some of the biggest reasons are their physical appearance, race, gender and sexual orientation.

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