Growing up in the public school system, I witnessed my share of bullying. In a situation like this, you really do not know what to do. I was scared and I knew that if I told someone what I had seen, the bully would come after me.

My first period began at 8:45 a.m., and I would sometimes come late to school. Not Jared though. He was constantly late, and sometimes wouldn’t even show up to class. I didn’t understand why until one day I saw him run to the boy’s restroom, followed not long after by a hulking eighth grader who asked if I had seen Jared. Later, during lunch I saw Jared sitting alone behind the bleachers and asked why he hadn’t attended class.

“You will never understand!” he shot back.

Bullying is a serious problem in schools, and groups are increasingly looking for ways to curb it.

A recent report from Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University shows that structured recess leads to decreased incidents of bullying. The report focused on the work of the Oakland-based nonprofit, Playworks, which plans to provide 23 cities nationwide with a healthier recess and in turn a better learning environment for students.

The research consisted of looking at schools that adapted the program and those that had not. The schools that had implemented Playworks’ structured recess found that “…kids better relate with one another, resolve conflicts constructively, get plenty of physical activity on the playground, and return to class more focused and ready to learn.”

The Playworks program involves trained coaches at urban schools who lead physical activities during recess -- including guided games – as well as provide leadership development during class time, tutoring and after school activities.

Like home, school should feel like a safe place where children can learn and gain social skills. But how can they if they are being bullied? Students should never have to feel scared of one another, especially if they are in the same class.

Sharee Lopez is a fellow with New America Media's Youth Education Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month long program for youth reporters aged 16-24 on education reporting. It is sponsored by the California Education Policy Fund.