​​Facts and figures

Research continues to investigate the experiences of children and young people related to bullying.

For more information see FAQs: Bullying in Schools and the section on Bullying research.

Bullying

Approximately one in four Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students (27%) reported being bullied every few weeks or more often (considered to be frequent) in a national study in 2009.

Frequent school bullying was highest among Year 5 (32%) and Year 8 (29%) students.

83% of students who bully others online also bully others in person.

84% of students who were bullied online were also bullied in person.

Peers are present as onlookers in 87% of bullying interactions, and play a central role in the bullying process.

Hurtful teasing was the most prevalent of all bullying behaviours experienced by students, followed by having hurtful lies told about them.

Online bullying appears to be related to age (or access to technology), with secondary students more likely to engage in bullying online than primary school students

Young people over the age of 15 are less likely than students between 10 and 15 years of age to be involved in online bullying.

Approximately one in five young people under 18 (20%) report experiencing online bullying in any one year. The figure of 20% has been extrapolated from a number of different studies which found rates varying from 6% to 44% of students.

School staff report an average of 2.1% reports per student of online bully, with 1.2 per 100 for primary schools and 9.1 per 100 students for high schools.

The majority (72%) of schools reported managing at least one incident of online bullying in the previous year.

Violence

The overwhelming majority of children and young people are not involved in violence either as victims or perpetrators.

While often perceived primarily as perpetrators of violence, young people are in fact at greatest risk of being victims.

Use caution with facts and figures

Bullying is a challenging area to research. Researchers overcome these challenges with a number of methods, but these also create other issues.

Because of this, every fact or figure about student bullying, in person and/or online, must be used with caution.

For example, a prevalence figure from a single study cannot necessarily be applied to the broader community. Most prevalence figures are estimates based on a wide range of prevalence figures identified across a number of different studies. The original studies have important differences in research design and methodology, including varied reporting and data collection tools, varied student population characteristics, and differing forms of bullying being investigated.

The prevalence figures reported for bullying are a 'best estimate' based on a range of research studies.

An additional caution is that bullying prevalence can potentially be over-estimated if students use the term 'bullying' to include behaviours that are not actually bullying, and can potentially be under-estimated if students are reluctant to report to others. We know that both of these issues commonly happen.

Sources

Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study.

IRIS Research. (2014). Estimates of cyber-bullying incidents dealt with by Australian schools.

Spears, B., Keeley, M., Bates, S., & Katz, I. (2014a). Research on youth exposure to, and management of, cyberbullying incidents in Australia: Part A ‒ Literature review on the estimated prevalence of cyberbullying involving Australian minors.

Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 2010, Avoid the Harm - Stay Calm Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians.

Department of Education and Training (2015). A review of literature (2010-2014) on student bullying by Australia’s Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group .

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