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How are different groups, such as ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and disabled pupils, affected by bullying?

A Scottish study (from 1998 to 2000), looked at the experiences of 26 disabled children in Scotland. The children (7 - 15 years old) had a range of disabilities and attended a mix of schools: special schools, mainstream and some were in integrated units. It was found that nearly half had been bullied in school. Most of them had coped successfully on their own with a single bullying incident, but for a few, bullying occurred daily.
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C Connors and K Stalker (2002) 'Children's Experiences of Disability: a positive outlook', Interchange Number 75, Scottish Executive. This document can be downloaded here (see the publications section). Also, a limited number are available from the Education and Young People Research Unit Dissemination Officer at the Scottish Executive Education Department, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.

In an English study carried out in the early 1990s, 186 children from primary and secondary schools were asked about bullying. Ninety three of the children had special educational needs. Almost two thirds of children with special needs said they had been bullied, while only a quarter of children without special needs reported being bullied. According to this study, children with moderate learning difficulties were more likely to be bullied than those with mild learning difficulties. It was also found that children with special needs had fewer friends. It was suggested that this might make it more likely that they would be bullied.
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D Thomson, I Whitney and P K Smith (1994) 'Bullying of Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Schools' in 'Support for Learning', Volume 9, Number 3.
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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.

In this study, 48 traveller children at primary schools in Lancashire were asked about bullying (see Juric and Eslea). Almost 40% said that they had been bullied at some point during their time at school. The bullying was usually physical (84.2%) rather than verbal (26.3%). This physical bullying was often very violent, examples given include having an arm broken and being repeatedly kicked in the face. A quarter (25%) of the girls who had been bullied said they had missed school as a result, 10% of the boy victims had done the same. Most of the children who had reported the bullying to someone said things had been worked out successfully.
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S Juric and M Eslea 'The Nature and Extent of Bullying Experienced by Traveller Children in Primary Schools'. This article can be read online here (pdf format).

243 Hindu, Indian Muslim and Pakistani children in England were asked about bullying in school (see Eslea and Mukhtar, 2000). The results were alarming, with 57% of boys and 43% of girls answering that they had been bullied that term. The level of bullying among the three different groups was more or less the same. It emerged that it was just as likely for the children to be bullied by other Asian pupils from a different ethnic group as it was to bullied by white children. It was uncommon for children to be bullied by others in the same ethnic group.
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M Eslea and K Mukhtar (2000) 'Bullying and Racism among Asian Schoolchildren in Britain' in 'Educational Research', Volume 42, Number 2, pages 207 -217, Summer.

In the early 1990s, over 1,000 secondary school children from 2 schools in London and 1 in Glasgow were asked about bullying. Surprisingly, the reports of bullying from ethnic minority children were not higher than the reports from children from the ethnic majority. However, there was a big difference when children were asked if they thought that generally, ethnic minority children were bullied more than children from the ethnic majority. Many more children from ethnic minority groups felt this was true than ethnic majority children.
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G Siann, M Callaghan, P Glissov, R Lockhart and L Rawson (1994) 'Who Gets Bullied? The effect of school, gender and ethnic group' in 'Educational Research', Volume 36, Number 2.

This Scottish study (see Stead, Closs and Arshad, 1999) gathered information about the school experiences of young refugees. When the 12 young refugees were asked about name calling, bullying and racism all but one said they had experienced this. Interviews with parents revealed that they felt very strongly about bullying and racism and how their children got on with other children.
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J Stead, A Closs and R Arshad (1999) 'Refugee Pupils in Scottish Schools', SCRE Spotlight, Number 74. This article can be viewed online here. Please note that there is just a brief reference to bullying in this paper.
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Rowena ArshadRowena Arshad OBE has been Director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) at The University of Edinburgh since 1994. She has been involved in the area of equality (particularly race equality) since 1983 and has published widely in this area. More recently she has been involved in research into the school experiences of refugee children in Scotland and the experiences of minority ethnic pupils. Rowena may be contacted by email.

Alison Closs is Senior Lecturer at Moray House School of Education at The University of Edinburgh. In addition to her teaching commitments she has been involved in educational research for a number of years. Her research interests include SEN/Support for Learning, the education of children with chronic and/or deteriorating conditions and the school experiences of refugee pupils and their parents in Scotland. In a recent study she investigated the experiences of disabled children and adults in the former Yugoslavia. She is also on the editorial team of the Scottish Schools Ethos Network. Alison may be contacted by email.

Dr Joan Stead is a researcher at the Moray House School of Education at The University of Edinburgh. Her recent research has focused on: the experiences of refugee children in schools, school exclusion, the experiences of Traveller children in schools and also social inclusion of visually impaired pupils in mainstream schools. Joan may be contacted by email.

An English study looked at the experiences of 190 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered adults who had been bullied at school. Their answers revealed that the most common forms of bullying they had suffered at school were name-calling (82%) and being ridiculed in front of others (71%). In most cases the names they were called related to their sexual orientation. Many more men (68%) than women (31%) in the study said that they had been hit or kicked. About 29% of the lesbian and bisexual women in the study had suffered physical bullying at school. It is important to note that this figure is higher than the figure for physical bullying amongst the broader population of schoolgirls found in an earlier study by the same researcher (24% at primary school level and 5% at secondary school level). It is also disturbing to note that 21% of the adults in the later study reported being sexually assaulted at school (19 men and 2 women). Only 22% had told their teachers they were being bullied, and only 16% had told them why. It was slightly more likely that they would tell someone at home, but again very few would say why. To end on a positive note, the study did not support the findings of two other researchers that lesbian, gay and bisexual victims of bullying had particular problems with anxiety or had particular problems with feelings of insecurity in close relationships in later life. Although as adults, the participants were in some ways still affected by their experience of bullying, they did not suffer from low self-esteem and were positive about their sexuality.
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I Rivers (2001) 'The Bullying of Sexual Minorities at School: its nature and long- term correlates' in ' Educational and Child Psychology', Volume 18, Part 1, pages 32 - 46. See also 'Homophobic Bullying and Its Long-Term Effects. Summary of Findings.' This can be downloaded here.
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Ian RiversAuthor details

Dr Ian Rivers is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the College of Ripon and York St John in York. He has published widely on issues affecting lesbian and gay young people. The main focus of his research is homophobic bullying. Dr Rivers may be contacted by email.

Fifteen young gay and bisexual men (between 14 and 26 years of age) from the North East of England were asked about their experiences at school. Only 20% said that they had not been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation. All of the participants who had been bullied had suffered verbal abuse, and 75% had been physically abused at least once. For some the bullying happened regularly and over a long period of time. The study revealed that many of the young men who had been bullied (58%), had not told their parents about it. However 75% of those who had been bullied had told a teacher, although one young man had not revealed that it was homophobic. Unfortunately for many, the teachers' responses were neither supportive or effective. Seventeen per cent of those who had had not received support from teachers or parents had thought about or actually attempted suicide and 33% had suffered depression. Other reported effects of bullying included loss of confidence and self-esteem, feelings of isolation and also difficulties concentrating on school work.
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H Ford (2002) 'Homophobic Bullying in North East Schools. Summary of Research Findings', Newcastle Upon Tyne, England: MESMAC North East.

A limited number of copies of this report are available from MESMAC North East, 11 Nelson Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5AN, England, Telephone 0191 233 1333 or contact by email.

In 2001, a number of teachers in schools in the North East of England were asked about school issues concerning lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils, including homophobic bullying. Nearly half (47.4%) of the schools reported homophobic language being used at least once a week. The most commonly used words were 'gay' or 'puff', although the point was made that many pupils were now using the term 'gay' as a general term of abuse, in many cases no longer specifically referring to a person's sexuality. Twenty three per cent of the schools were aware of physical homophobic bullying. While the study found that many of the schools were aware of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in their school, and of homophobic bullying, only 15% of schools specifically mention homophobic bullying in their anti-bullying policies. It was also found that only 18% of schools had been involved in any training on issues affecting lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, including homophobic bullying.
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Article details

H Ford (2002) 'Homophobic Bullying in North East Schools. Summary of Research Findings', Newcastle Upon Tyne, England: MESMAC North East.

A limited number of copies of this report are available from MESMAC North East, 11 Nelson Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5AN, England, Telephone 0191 233 1333 or contact by email.
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