ONE in three pupils in years 3 to 8 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 research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
In the study, 1239 students from 43 Melbourne (Victoria) primary schools were interviewed annually from year 3 to year 8.
It found 86 per cent of students said they had been bullied at least once in the previous month, and 66 said it happened at least weekly.
A third was subjected to persistent bullying in verbal or physical forms. The most common was teasing, and the least common was cyber bullying. Many emotional and behavioural problems begin in the middle years, Lisa Mundy of MCRI said.
“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 ,” Dr Mundy said. “For a significant number, this stage can be destabilising and can negatively affect their longterm health and learning.”
The study found physical bullying was higher in boys, while girls spread more rumours . Both forms of bullying decreased from years 3 to 5.
Most bullying decreased markedly when students changed schools when they started year 7, and cyber bullying was the only type to increase after the transition to high school.
George Patton of MCRI said bullying was “one of the clearest risk factors for mental health problems during these years” .
He said although most mental health issues emerged by the age of 14, symptoms started in primary school.
This article by SUSIE O’BRIEN is from the October 29 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition.
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