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Are there differences in the bullying experiences of girls and boys?

A 1997 study of bullying in 19 English schools (primary and secondary) revealed physical bullying was far more common among boys than girls. Girls, on the other hand, were more likely than boys to deliberately exclude someone from a group. Another big difference appeared in answers about the gender of bullies. Usually when boys were bullied, it was by other boys, however girls were usually bullied by other girls and by boys. Another difference was in how bullies felt about their victims. Girls were almost twice as likely as boys to feel pity towards their target; they were also more likely to feel generally bad about it. However, the most common reaction of girls and boys was that the victims had somehow brought it on themselves. There was also a difference in the reactions of the victims. It was more common for girls to cry than boys, also they were more likely to ask friends for help.
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Article details

P K Smith and Shu Shu (2000) 'What Good Schools Can Do About Bullying: findings from a survey in English schools after a decade of research and action', in 'Childhood', Volume 7 (2).
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Graph details

'Percentages of those bullied (sex of those bullying)' from Smith and Shu article above, table 5, page 202.

Boy victims Girl victims
Only by boys 75.6 9.7
Mainly by boys 14.4 10.8
By both boys and girls 8.8 29.5
Mainly by girls 0.3 14.9
Only by girls 0.9 35.1

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Author details

Peter SmithProfessor Peter K Smith is Head of the Unit for School and Family Studies, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, London. He has been involved in bullying research for a number of years and has published widely on this topic.

Peter Smith may be contacted by email, and the website of the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College may be found here.
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