Following Anti-Bullying Week and a news story last month about a girl being physically attacked, we have had more news stories about young people committing suicide after prolonged bullying and further reports of bullying in the armed services. These prompted us to have another look at the figures we hold about bullying: what can we tell about the effects of bullying on the victim?
Our school surveys ask the boys and girls about their perceived levels of bullying, the nature of the bullying, and where it takes place.
Results from two of the questions:
* Do you fear being going to school because of bullying?
* Do others fear going to school because of you?
...have been very helpful in discussion in schools in classroom, staff room and at parents evenings. Our surveys allow schools to respond to the self-evaluation form with confidence and local authorities to assess their performance against the 'Every Child Matters' outcome targets for bullying.
As reported in 'Trends', 12-13 year old girls, more often than the other groups, admit to feeling afraid 'sometimes' of going to school because of bullying. Around 28% regularly choose this option and between 7% to 10% report being afraid 'often' or 'very often'. There are more details available: see extract from Trends.
We looked in our large databanks for links between reports of bullying and possible measures of the effect of bullying, like self-esteem. It came as no surprise to discover that levels of self esteem and experience of being bullied are linked:
This is a very striking and an enormously powerful piece of evidence for professionals thinking about young people's experiences of bullying. However, it is still not obvious what might be causing this association:
* Does the experience of being bullied reduce your self-esteem? This is the natural interpretation, but also:
* Do bullies select as their victims pupils with low self-esteem?
* Is it only the young people with low self-esteem who fear the bullying that many may experience?