'Half of teenage pupils are bullied'

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The Independent Online
Almost half of teenagers are bullied at school, and one in five says he or she plays truant to avoid bullying, writes Liz Hunt.

The findings of a new study show bullying to be a major source of stress and disruption, with a quarter of bullied pupils saying it made them ill. Many suffered nightmares, and more than a third did not know how to stop the bullying.

Sonia Sharp, educational psychologist for Barnsley, which surveyed 750 pupils aged 13 to 16, said that the type of bullying pupils most feared was having rumours spread about them, their family or their sexual relationships. This was followed by fear of physical violence, being called names, and being deliberatley left out by their peers. Being forced to hand over money was judged the least worrying.

Boys said they worried most about verbal and indirect bullying - such as rumour- spreading - while girls said that physical and direct bullying was most stressful. 'This was surprising,' Ms Sharp said. 'We would expect girls to be more worried about their reputations than boys. It is less surprising for boys because 'intellectual' bullying is the kind they are least likely to cope with.'

On the final day of the British Psychological Society conference in Brighton yesterday, Ms Sharp said the study also showed that many bullies had themselves been bullied. Among the 28 per cent who admitted bullying, there was considerable overlap with the 22 per cent who said they were both victims and perpetrators.

She said there was a hard core of persistent bullies who knew they were doing wrong but felt justified. Often they came from families where the parents were aggressive, and usually they got their own way.

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