Nightly News | September 05, 2010
>>> kids across the country are returning to school this week, and that has some top educators focusing on school bullying . it takes many forms including verbal and physical harassment, even cyber bullying and now teachers and students are taking a tougher stance. here's nbc's tom costello.
>> reporter: it was last january's suicide of 15-year-old phoebe prince in massachusetts that many believe was the ultimate example of school bullying . having just emigrated from ireland, she killed herself after being ftormented by students by six fellow students facing charges.
>> called her names, followed her home, smart remarks, dirty looks .
>> reporter: across the country principals, teachers and psychologists say something's changed in america's schools.
>> the prevalence of abuse of children and other children is getting worse.
>> reporter: the department of education agrees. recently in washington it gathered the first national school bullying summit.
>> i have to tell you, i have very little patience with the argument that kids will be kids, and there's not much the school can do to make the environment safer.
>> reporter: the government reports nearly one out of three students in middle school and high school reported being bullied during the 2007 school year. 1 out of 9 high schoolers, 2.8 million students, said they've been physically abused or spat on during the last year. and 900,000 reported being cyber bullied. this 11-year-old got so fed up with being bullied in her philadelphia school very wrote president obama asking for his help.
>> it's hard to be a kid, because you know you're going to school, you got to get your education and you still got to worry about i got to watch this boy because he's going to call me names.
>> reporter: she has started her own no bullying campaign hoping it will catch on nationwide. the reasons for the increase in bull bullying. are many. we have a more challenging economy that has increased tension at home. he says it's virtually impossible for any xhild to thrive in a school when they feel threatened.
>> it's not so easy to struggle on insults, and it's impossible to shrug off physical violence.
>> reporter: all the more reason the time is now to adopt a zero ta tolerance policy on bullies.