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Cross-National Time Trends in Bullying Victimization in 33 Countries Among Children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 2002 to 2010

The current research aims to identify countries in which bullying victimization has increased or decreased over an 8-year period, serving as a basis for policy interpretation, particularly around social policies influencing bullying behaviors among school-aged children.

 The Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study collects data every 4 years from nationally representative samples of 11-, 13- and 15-year-old children, using anonymous self-report questionnaires administered in school. This article used HBSC data collected from 33 countries and regions in 2001–02, 2005–06 and 2009–10. The total sample size for this study was 581 838 children.

 Victimization from bullying was assessed using the question ‘How often have you been bullied at school in the past couple of months?’; with the response options

  1. ‘I have not been bullied at school in the past couple of months’,
  2. ‘It has only happened once or twice’, ‘2–3 times a month’,
  3. ‘About once a week’ and
  4. ‘Several times a week’.

 In conclusion, this article has demonstrated decreasing trends in bullying victimization among boys and girls across a third of participating countries; with few countries reporting increasing trends in bullying victimization. While these results are positive, it is important to acknowledge that victimization is still a fairly common harmful experience for a number of school-aged children and that continued effort should be made to further reduce bullying. Moreover, substantial variations still exist across countries and the inconsistency of country trends raises important implications for policy development and evaluation. Such as:

  • The inconsistency in direction emphasizes the importance continuity in national policy to maintain consistent trajectories; implementing policy until declines are reported is inadequate, a continued effort is necessary to maintain the decreasing trend.
  • The gender differences in significant trends suggest gender-specific programmes may be a useful tool in addressing the gender differences presented in this article.
  • Those countries which report consistent downward trends in bullying victimization can guide and inform other countries in their bid to decrease bullying further


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