Bullying is not just a problem for a minority of children; it is a widespread problem that can affect the culture and climate of a whole school. According to Bullying UK’s 2006 National Bullying Survey (the largest, most comprehensive survey of its kind at the time):
Bullying is not the same as disputes and squabbles between equals or friends – though these can and do cross the line sometimes. Bullying is an unprovoked, sustained campaign of aggression towards someone in order to hurt them for the sake of it. The consequences:
It is estimated that at least 20 children and adolescents a year commit suicide because of being bullied – this is a conservative estimate based on documented cases known to us. It is likely that the actual number is higher, perhaps much higher. (These figures also do not take into account the numbers of young people who attempt suicide but survive.)
According to the National Bullying Survey, more than half of those who reported being bullied had been physically hurt (parents report over 71%); 34% of those physically hurt required attention from a doctor or hospital. 3% of the attacks involved a weapon.
Research in Scandinavia by Professor Dan Olweus, quoted on the website of the US organisation Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, has found that two-fifths of boys who bullied others at school had 3 or more criminal convictions by the age of 24.
Bullying is one of the most significant reasons for children to be withdrawn from the school system altogether and educated at home. One organisation cites it as the reason in over 50% of cases.
Cyberbullying – campaigns of harassment conducted via communications technology such as the internet and mobile phones – is consistently estimated to affect around a quarter of secondary-age young people. (Action for Children 2005, 25% victimised; Qing Li 2006, 25%, Smith 2005, 28.6%, Hinduja and Patchin 2007, 29.3%.) Some studies put the figure significantly higher (Juvonen and Gross 2008 at nearly 75%.)
The Bullying and Truancy Report (2006) found a direct correlation between bullying and truancy.