The 16th – 20th November is Anti-Bullying Week in England, organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The 2015 theme is “Make a Noise About Bullying”, focused on encouraging conversations about bullying – among young people, schools and families. Bullying can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of young people. International research has demonstrated experiencing bullying is linked to both physical health symptoms (e.g. headaches) and psychological health symptoms (e.g. loneliness)1. Moreover, research by Wolke and colleagues2 identified the impact of childhood bullying can last long into adult life. The detrimental and often long lasting effects of bullying make it imperative young people speak up about bullying they, or others, are experiencing so that they receive the necessary support.
Bullying can be defined as intentional harmful behaviours, which are carried out repeatedly against a weaker individual. Bullying can be carried out using many different behaviours, but they can be broadly categorised in to physical, verbal, relational and cyber bullying.
The HBSC study has long recognised the importance of researching bullying among young people, and within the international network questions addressing bullying have been a mandatory feature of the HBSC survey since 1997. HBSC England samples a large, representative proportion of young people aged 11, 13 and 15 years in England. Consequently, the latest HBSC England data provides an up to date view of bullying behaviours in England today.
Overall, 32% of young people surveyed said they had experienced bullying at school at least once in the past two months. Girls were slightly more likely than boys to say they had been bullied– 34% of girls compared with 31% of boys. Comparatively, fewer young people said they had bullied another student; 18% of the young people surveyed said they had bullied someone in the past 2 months.
The 2014 survey was the first time HBSC England included questions on the topic of cyberbullying (read our previous blog post about cyberbullying by clicking here). Fewer young people reported being cyberbullied than the more “traditional” forms of bullying; in total 18% of the young people surveyed said they had experienced cyberbullying in the past two months. Girls were much more likely to say they had been cyberbullied, with 24% of girls compared with 12% of boys reporting cyberbullying. Interestingly cyber bullying appeared to increase with age (Figure 2), compared with traditional bullying which was less common among older adolescents (Figure 1).
For the full HBSC England report which addresses bullying (along with other adolescent health behaviours!) click here.
Join in with Anti-Bullying Week on twitter by using the #antibullyingweek and #MakeaNoise to raise awareness around bullying. We will be tweeting the latest HBSC England data on bullying from our account @HBSCEngland, so make sure you follow us for updates!
- Due, P., Holstein, B. E., Lynch, J., et al. (2005). Bullying and symptoms among school-aged children: international comparative cross sectional study in 28 countries. Eur J Public Health, 15, 128–132.
- Wolke, D., Copeland, W. E., Angold, A. & Costello, E. J. (2013). Impact of bullying inchildhood on adult health, wealth, crime, and social outcomes. Psychological science, 24(10), 1958-1970.