Children's experiences of unfriendly behaviour

Children's experiences of unfriendly behaviour

Media release — 19 June 2013

A significant proportion of Australian children aged 10-11 years old have reported being picked on through unfriendly behaviours, providing a fresh indication of the experiences of bullying victimisation among children in this age group.

Research released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that almost three in five children – aged 10-11 years – reported that they had been picked on, through some form of unfriendly behaviour, in the previous 12 months.

Executive Manager of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, Dr Ben Edwards said that seven per cent of children at 10-11 years had experienced all four types of unfriendly behaviour examined in the study including pushing, shoving or hitting; name calling or insulting; social exclusion; and note writing.

"While boys and girls reported similar rates of overall victimisation, boys were more likely than girls to report overt unfriendly behaviours like pushing, shoving, hitting and name calling and insulting," Dr Edwards said.

"Girls were more likely than boys to report the covert types of unfriendly behaviour, being left out of groups and note writing.

"There were also differences in the prevalence of children being picked on. Victimisation was more apparent among children from lower socio-economic groups, those with a disability, or children who were overweight or obese.

"Among children whom teachers identified as being absent from school more frequently, there was a higher percentage of children who reported experiencing unfriendly behaviours, compared to those with more regular school attendance.

"Children who changed schools in the previous two years were also more likely to report victimisation, although it is not clear whether this happened before or after the change in schools. The type of school or its size did not appear to be related to children's reports of experiences of unfriendly behaviours."

Lead researcher on the report, the Institute's Senior Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Baxter said that the data suggested a significant under-reporting of bullying by both parents and teachers.

"Even for children who reported three or four types of unfriendly behaviours, a significant proportion of parents reported that their child had not been bullied," Dr Baxter said.

"Our research also confirmed that children who experienced more peer victimisation on average, also reported poorer concepts of self worth and showed significantly higher levels of conduct problems, emotional difficulties and hyperactivity or inattention."

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