Teaching methods and lunchbreaks increase bullying

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The Independent Online
BRITISH PRIMARY school children are three times more likely to be bullied than young children in Germany because of different teaching methods and lunchtime supervision, research shows.

In Germany, children often go home for lunch and are usually taught by a teacher standing at the front of the class rather than the British model of working in groups. Both German techniques were more important than anti-bullying policies, and often prevented bullying from taking place, said Professor Dieter Wolke, of the University of Hertfordshire and author of the research.

The findings, due to be presented today at the British Psychological Society's London conference, reveal that a quarter of British children aged between six and nine are bullied every week compared with only 8 per cent of German children.

The research shows that more British children are bullied even though fewer boys are intimidatory - on average 3 per cent, compared with 7.5 per cent of German boys. Professor Wolke said: "Boys in both countries took part in bullying more than girls, but the British boys are very busy and bully more children."

The findings also reveal that anti-bullying policies make little difference in reducing bullying. "There was no difference in school policies on bullying or awareness of the issue between the two countries, which could have led to a difference in reported bullying," he said.

When children went home for lunch, as they often did in Germany, much of the opportunity to bully was removed, Professor Wolke said. "Lunch breaks in Britain, where most of the bullying takes place, are only supervised by dinner ladies, who have less authority than teachers," he said.

The study of 2,376 primary school children in Britain and 1,538 in Germany, found that the most common forms of bullying were name calling and beatings. Bullying occurred mostly in the playground and classroom, rather than on the way to or from school.

The research also shows that in Britain, young children are more likely to be bullied in smaller, rural schools with reduced class sizes. Professor Wolke said that children in small schools were more at risk because once identified as victims, children had less chance of making alternative friends.

Professor Wolke found two distinct types of bullies - the "pure bully" and the "bully victim". The "pure bully" was a healthy child who liked going to school, whereas the "bully victim" was temperamental and hyperactive.