HOW WIDESPREAD IS BULLYING?

A 2018 study by the international research programme, Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (www.hbsc.org), showed that approximately 13% of 11-year-olds across 42 countries reported being bullied at school at least twice in the previous two months.

Interestingly, in Denmark this figure dropped to 5% in 2018, compared to 25% in 1998. This is good news, and suggests that growing efforts by schools and child-centred organisations such as ours to address the problem are having a positive effect. But there is still more work to be done – both here in Denmark and internationally. And we must remember that stopping bullying is about ongoing prevention. There will always be a new generation of children who will benefit from developing their social skills and learning to be a good friend. And all communities are in constant motion and forever changing. Preventing bullying is thus by definition a never-ending endeavour.

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In terms of which age groups are most affected, Danish research suggests that bullying peaks in Grades 4 to 6. Meanwhile, studies from other parts of the world have also shown that early signs of bullying can be observed from a very young age. One Norwegian study found that relational bullying (which refers to indirect bullying involving destruction of friendships, spreading rumors, ignoring and exclusion from play) starts from as early as three years of age (Helgesen, M.B. (2010) Relasjonell mobbing blant jenter i barnehagen, Høgskolen i Finnmark). Another American study showed that both indirect and direct forms of bullying could be observed among children as young as 30 months (Crick, Ostrov, Burr, Cullerton-Sen, Jansen-Yeh & Ralston (2006) A longitudinal study of relational and physical aggression in preschool).

Early intervention is therefore essential.