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Bullying in German Primary Schools: Gender Differences, Age Trends and Influence of Parents’ Migration and Educational Backgrounds

The study discussed herein assessed the prevalence of bullying and analysed possible predictors for bullying in a sample of urban primary school-age children. Direct bullying was more likely directed at, and employed by, boys. Indirect/relational bullying occurred less frequently and mainly within same-gender groups.

This research aims to

  1. To survey the prevalence of different bullying forms (direct and indirect/relational) in urban German primary schools, using a cross informant approach and to explicitly assess bullies’ and victims’ gender.
  2. To analyse whether or not results of other national and international studies regarding gender differences and age trends are reflected within this sample.
  3. To investigate the influence of stable psychosocial factors (i.e. low parental education and professional training, parents’ migration background) on bullying and victimization, having due regard to the child’s age and gender.

 Participants were 550 children from 12 primary schools in the city state of Bremen and Lower Saxony, Germany. Teachers from the selected schools were informed about the study during teacher conferences. Following the consent of teachers, parents of the children in the selected classes received written information on the aims and procedures of the study and were asked to return a consent form as well as a short parent questionnaire.

 In sum, this study complements the relatively small number of prior studies on bullying in German primary schools by providing detailed information on different bullying forms, with special emphasis on gender-specific differences. One advantage of this study is the cross-informant approach employed, as it seems to render a more reliable estimation of bullying prevalence and a more valid classification of the different bullying status groups (bullies, victims and bully/victims).


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