Small schools in villages `have the most bullying'

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CHILDREN ARE more likely to be bullied in small village primary schools than in large inner-city schools because they have less chance of making alternative friends.

A study of more than 2,300 children in England, aged 6 to 9, also showed that most school anti-bullying policies do not work because they are based on a simplistic view of "poor" victims and "bad" bullies.

Most children who bully end up being victims of bullying and so anti- bullying policies by themselves make little difference, said the study's author Professor Dieter Wolke, of the University of Hertfordshire.

The research, published by the Economic and Social Research Centre, says nearly 45 per cent of primary school children had often been bullied in the past six months. "One in four children in primary school is victimised several times a week, which is much higher than in secondary school children and in other countries," Professor Wolke said.

He found that the most common types of bullying children experienced were name-calling, followed by being beaten up and having lies told about them. Children were bullied more in small schools, small classes, in classes with a higher ethnic mix or with pupils of a lower socio-economic status, and in schools in smaller communities.

Professor Wolke said that in smaller schools and classes, children had fewer opportunities to make alternative friends because the social network was highly stable. "This contributes to perpetual victimisation."

The study found thatbehavioural or anti-bullying policies did not affect the level of bullying in schools. The findings also suggested there were two types of bullies: the "pure bully" and the "bully victim". The pure bully enjoys school, generally sleeps and eats well and uses bullying as a way of asserting dominance.

The bully victim was hot- tempered, hyperactive and more likely to have emotional problems, Professor Wolke said. He or she also had 65 per cent more sleeping problems than a pure bully.