Shocking number of kids enduring violent bullying at school
One in three kids in years three to eight are subject to frequent violent bullying at school, a new study has found.
While boys bully less as they age, bullying among girls can persist at high levels into secondary school, according to new research from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.
The study involved 1239 students from 43 Melbourne primary schools who were interviewed annually from year three to year eight.
It found 86 per cent of students said they had been bullied at least once in the past month, and 66 said it happened at least weekly. One third was subjected to persistent bullying in many different verbal or physical forms.
The most common form of bullying was teasing, and the least common was cyber bullying. Dr Lisa Mundy from the MCRI said many emotional and behavioural problems begin in the middle years. "Problems with peer groups, bullying and difficulty adjusting to secondary school frequently cause further loss of learning and increase the risk of mental health problems including depression and suicide," she said.
"For a significant number, this stage can be destabilising and can negatively impact their long-term health and learning."
The study found physical bullying was higher in boys while girls spread more rumours. Both forms of bullying decreased from grades three to five. Most bullying decreased markedly when students changed schools when they started year seven, with cyber bullying the only form of bullying to increase after the transition to high school.
MCRI Professor George Patton said bullying was "one of the clearest risk factors for mental health problems during these years".
He said although most mental health issues emerge by the age of 14, symptoms start in primary school. In a classroom of 25 children in Grade 3, about five students will have emotional problems and about five behavioural problems.
Professor Patton warned remote learning and physical distancing during COVID-19 may have a disproportionate effect on students during this critical developmental phase.
"Students who fall behind may find it very difficult to catch up without proper support. Physical distancing and further remote learning will undoubtedly affect relationships with friends and other students," he said.
Originally published as Shocking number of kids enduring violent bullying at school