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A cross-national profile of bullying and victimization among adolescents in 40 countries

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International Journal of Public Health



(1) To compare the prevalence of bullying and victimization among boys and girls and by age in 40 countries. (2) In 6 countries, to compare rates of direct physical, direct verbal, and indirect bullying by gender, age, and country.


Cross-sectional self-report surveys including items on bullying and being bullied were obtained from nationally representative samples of 11, 13 and 15 year old school children in 40 countries, N = 202,056. Six countries (N = 29,127 students) included questions about specific types of bullying (e. g., direct physical, direct verbal, indirect).


Exposure to bullying varied across countries, with estimates ranging from 8.6% to 45.2% among boys, and from 4.8% to 35.8% among girls. Adolescents in Baltic countries reported higher rates of bullying and victimization, whereas northern European countries reported the lowest prevalence. Boys reported higher rates of bullying in all countries. Rates of victimization were higher for girls in 29 of 40 countries. Rates of victimization decreased by age in 30 of 40 (boys) and 25 of 39 (girls) countries.


There are lessons to be learned from the current research conducted in countries where the prevalence is low that could be adapted for use in countries with higher prevalence.

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Correspondence to Wendy Craig Ph.D..

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Members of the HBSC Violence & Injuries Prevention Focus Group: Michal Molcho (IE) (Coordinator), Joanna Mazur (PL), Damien Favresse (BE-Fr), Alain Leveque (BE-Fr), Wendy Craig (CA), Will Pickett (CA), Katrin Aasvee (EE), Dora Varnai (HU), Yossi Harel (IL), Liat Korn (IL), Anita Villerusa (LV), Pilar Ramos Valverde (ES), Peter Scheidt (US), Mary Overpeck (US)

Members of the HBSC Bullying Writing Group: Will Pickett (CA), Will Boyce (CA), Wendy Craig (CA), Pernille Due (DK), Bjorn Holstein (DK), Michal Molcho (IE), Yossi Harel (IL), Wilma Vollebergh (NL), Jorn Hetland (NO), Oddrun Samdal (NO), Joanna Mazur (PL), Margarida Gaspar de Matos (PT), Winfried van der Sluijs (GB-SCO), Zuzana Katreniakova (SK), Mary Overpeck (US), Tonja Nansel (US), Jing Wang (US)

Submitted: 18 September 2008; revised: 04 May 2009; accepted: 04 June 2009

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Craig, W., Harel-Fisch, Y., Fogel-Grinvald, H. et al. A cross-national profile of bullying and victimization among adolescents in 40 countries. Int J Public Health 54 (Suppl 2), 216–224 (2009).

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