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Characteristics of bullying victims in schools

The consequences of bullying can be severe in terms of young people’s mental wellbeing, attitudes towards school, educational attainment and even potential suicide risk (Smith et al., 2004). It is therefore vital to gain more information about those young people who are particularly at risk of bullying so that policy interventions can be based on good evidence and targeted at the right groups. The results from this study provide robust evidence on the characteristics of bullying victims based on a representative cohort of young people aged 14 to 16 attending secondary schools in England between 2004 and 2006.

Possible risk factors for bullying that have previously been identified by DCSF in the Staying Safe Action Plan are race and ethnicity, religion, culture, sexuality, disability and being a young carer (DCSF, 2008b). Previous findings tell us that young people from ethnic minorities are less likely to be bullied than white young people (DCSF, 2008c). However, a study using matched pairs of Asian and white children found no differences in the likelihood of being bullied according to ethnicity at all, which suggests that the picture may be more complicated. Other previous research indicates that children and young people with SEN, especially learning difficulties, are particularly likely to be subjected to bullying (Norwich and Kelly, 2002) and that boys are more likely to be physically bullied and subjected to attacks on property (Mynard and Joseph, 2000).