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Bullying at School


1. Bullying has been reported as occurring in every school and kindergarten or day-care environment in which it has been investigated (1)

2. Bullying can be categorised as direct or indirect and also in as physical, verbal and gestural (2)

3. Although there is no consistent evidence that bullying overall is increasing, one area of growing concern among children is cyber bullying, especially among older students (3)

4. Gender differences have been found indicating that boys are bullied physically more often than girls. Girls are generally more often involved in indirect forms of aggression, such as excluding others, rumour spreading and unpleasant manipulating of situations to hurt those they do not like

5. There are differences in the nature and frequency of victimization reported by children according to age. Generally, bullying among younger children is proportionately more physical; with older children, indirect and more subtle forms of bullying tend to occur more often

6. Despite these differences in the kinds of bullying most experienced by different age groups, children typically report being bullied less often as they get older, although being victimized tends to increase when children enter secondary school (4)

7. Being bullied at school typically has negative effects on the physical and psychological well-being of those children who are frequently and severely targeted (see How harmful is bullying ?)

1. Prevalence. Of the hundreds of studies of the prevalence of bullying in schools in many countries none of them have reported zero. However, the estimates have varied very widely – between 10 and 90%. Of course these figures are meaningless unless we know how they have been arrived at. We need to know what definition has been used, what method has been employed (for example, self-report or peer nomination) and over what time period the bullying is said to have occurred. Comparisons of prevalence between countries are of questionable value as words with different meanings are often used in eliciting information about bullying. An example of estimates from an inquiry in Australia can be accessed via 'What children tell us'. Bear in mind that the important thing is not what figure one can put on it, but how estimates can be used, especially to (i) raise awareness in a school of what is actually happening and (ii) enable one to obtain an estimate by repeated testing on how effective interventions can be. Reliable surveys using questionnaires used for such purposes can be very useful indeed.

2. The means of bullying

Direct Indirect

Verbal Insulting language Persuading another
person to insult or abuse
Name calling Spreading malicious rumours
Ridicule Anonymous phone calls,
Cruel teasing or taunting Cyber bullying, eg., offensive sms and emails

Physical Striking, kicking Deliberately and Spitting unfairly excluding someone Throwing objects Removing and hiding
Using a weapon belongings

Gestural Threatening motions Repeatedly turning away to
Menac Staring fixedly at show that someone is someone unwelcome

Bullying is sometimes identified according to specified domains, as in

Racial bullying – when the bullying is directed at someone because of their racial identity
Sexual bullying – when bullying, either verbal or physical, directed at someone has negative sexual or gender implications. Sometimes this is called sexual harassment or sexual coercion.

3. So called cyber bullying is the most rapidly expanding kind of abusive behaviour among school children. A great deal of it is conducted outside the school, although it often involves children who attend the same school. There is no doubt that those children repeated targeted with offensive and threatening messages can become very distressed and need help. One of the best websites is http://www.stopcyberbullying.org

4. Age trends in bullying. It is widely recognized that reported bullying declines with age. But it commonly does rise when children move from primary to secondary school as the results obtained in Australia clearly show. In States of Australia where the temporary transfer to secondary school is made in Year 7 (eg., Victoria) the rise in bullying occurs a year earlier than it does in States where the transfer is made in Year 8 (eg., Queensland)

Percent bullied per week

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Ken Rigby is an Adjunct Research Professor and an educational consultant based at the University of South Australia. He was educated in England where he obtained an honours degree in Economics (London University) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Leicester University). Subsequently he worked as a teacher in schools in London and in Norfolk, (both secondary and primary) before emigrating to Australia, and finally as a School Guidance Officer. Subsequently he was employed as a lecturer, then Associate Professor in Psychology and Research Methods at the University of South Australia. He completed a PhD in Psychology at the University of Adelaide in 1977 .


5 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

milly chadwick
Oct 10, 2008 11:07am [ 1 ]

bulling is wrong i dont see thepoint in doing it everyne is diffrent ive ben bullied i havent been to school for a year. its not nice dont do it.

Oct 22, 2008 6:39am [ 2 ]

Any story of bullying pains me so mch. I was a victim in primary school and am a bit vulnerable to it now even while I'm a boarder in Uni.(I'm 22). I am also bullied in my own house by my younger sister who is 13 years younger than me.she started bullying me since she was 5. She's 9 now and hasn't changed much. She calls me names, pokes her tongue, holds my head, pretends to strike me with an object and screams into my ears. She does it when Mom is near her coz she knows I can't harm her or react negatively. Sounds weird but its true. She is doing it under the protection of my mother. Mom says it's my fault that she's acting that way and that I have to bear with her. She says that she's just a baby and doesn't know what she's doing. I was constantly depressed and cry myself to sleep on many nights. I was traumatised and felt that nobody in my family wants to protect me. My Mom's motto was "sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me". I wanted to believe that statement but later on I learnt that it isnt true. The pain that I felt is real. Pushing it to the back of my head won't heal me. Sooner or later it surfaces and haunts me. I believe that bullying can be harm inflicted on you by someone that has a backup to protect them. Bullying isn't only done by older or stronger people. I am now on the path to healing because of Jesus Christ.

Oct 30, 2008 4:19pm [ 3 ]


jacquie southon
Nov 23, 2008 6:43pm [ 4 ]

My 14 yr old recently had a used condom put in his school bag. The school did not even contact me. I am disgusted!!

Oct 10, 2010 10:21pm [ 5 ]

i'm 13 and im getting bullied by a 6 year old and i dont want 2 fight back but i know he's been raised wrong caz he's swearing , punching and kicking me and he's go a older sister thats older than me and this is happening to me out of school sometimes i have a break down in the middle of the night so no one can hear me and i've tried to tell them that i was sorry even though i never done anything but it won't work and i really need help

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