05/15/2015 00:06 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 01:12 EDT

Government survey finds decrease in schoolhouse bullying, whites more likely to be victims

WASHINGTON - Fewer students say they are being bullied at school. Those who are bullied are more likely to be girls than boys and more likely to be white than minority students.The Education Department announced survey results Friday that found 22 per cent of students age 12 to 18 said they were bullied in 2013. The figure, down 6 percentage points from 2011, is the lowest level since the National Center for Education Statistics began surveying students on bullying in 2005.Bullying has spread from school hallways and bathrooms to social media, raising awareness in recent years of what was once largely an underground issue. The focus has resulted in an aggressive effort to tackle it from local school officials on up to the federal government.Among the survey findings:—About a quarter, or 24 per cent, of girls said they were bullied compared to 20 per cent of boys.—A higher percentage of white students — 24 per cent — said they were bullied than black, Hispanic or Asian students. Twenty per cent of black students said they were bullied compared to 19 per cent of Hispanic students and 9 per cent of Asian students.Among respondents, 9 per cent of girls and 5 per cent of boys said they'd experienced cyberbullying either in school or outside of school. Unwanted text messages was the most common way students said they were cyberbullied followed by hurtful information posted on the Internet.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."Students bullied are more likely to struggle in school, skip class, face substance abuse and commit suicide, the department said research has found. Being made fun of, called names or being insulted was the most common way the surveyed students said were bullied. Being the subject of rumours or threatened with harm was also common.The survey is from the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. It is a nationally representative sample.___Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: