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

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.

Article details

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.

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.