Forty percent of nine-year-olds were victims of bullying or being “picked on”, and about 90% reported it had caused them upset.
Children in the Growing Up in Ireland report were asked to respond to a series of questions about whether they had been bullied in the previous year by either a child or an adult. Prevalence rates were the same for boys and girls.
A significantly higher proportion of children from single-parent families with one or two children (47%) reported having been bullied, compared with children from two-parent families with three or more children (37%).
Most commonly, children reported that they had been verbally bullied (74%), followed by exclusion (63%) and physical bullying (54%). Bullying through written messages (14%) and electronic means (5%) was less prominent.
The report noted that mothers did not seem to know children were being bullied as much as they appeared to be.
Mothers said just 24% of children had been victims of bullying in the past year. This represents a significantly lower proportion than that reported by children, suggesting either that many parents are unaware that their child has experienced bullying in the previous year, or that they may have different perspectives about what constitutes bullying.
Children who were bullied were asked to consider the extent to which the bullying had caused them to feel upset. Almost 90% of children reported that they had felt upset as a result of the bullying. A significantly higher proportion of girls (47%) than boys (36%) reported feeling a lot of upset as a result of being bullied.
Talking about school, just 7% of nine-year-olds reported they never liked school. More than a quarter of children (27%) always liked it, while 67% were more ambivalent and reported that they “sometimes” liked it.
Boys were more positive about maths than girls, with 50% always liking it compared with 44% of girls. Girls were more positive about Irish and about reading than boys: 64% of girls always liked reading and 25% always liked Irish, compared with 53% and 20% of boys.
Attitudes to Irish were somewhat more influenced by social background: 31% of children whose mothers had lower secondary education never liked Irish compared with 24% of the children of graduate mothers.
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