Table 2

Summary of factors that influence child and adolescent bullying15

Influencing factorDescription
Sex differencesGlobally, girls and boys are equally likely to experience bullying.
Boys are more likely to experience direct physical bullying; girls are more likely to experience direct verbal and indirect bullying.
Boys are more likely to be perpetrators of direct physical bullying, while girls are more likely to be perpetrators of indirect and emotional bullying.
Girls are more likely than boys to experience bullying based on physical appearance.
Globally, there are no major differences in the extent to which girls and boys experience sexual bullying, but there are regional differences.
Girls are more likely than boys to be cyberbullied via digital messages, but there is less discrepancy between the sexes in the prevalence of cyberbullying via digital pictures.
Age differencesAs children grow older, they are less likely to experience bullying by peers.
Age differences are less pronounced for bullying perpetration.
Older children may be more exposed to cyberbullying.
Not conforming to gender normsChildren viewed as gender non-conforming are at higher risk of bullying.
Physical appearancePhysical appearance is the most frequent reason for bullying.
Body dissatisfaction and being overweight are associated with bullying.
Physical and learning disabilityPhysical and learning disability is associated with increased risk of being bullied.
Race, nationality or colourBullying based on race, nationality or colour is the second most frequent reason for bullying reported by children.
ReligionCompared with other factors, religion is mentioned by far fewer children as a reason for being bullied.
Socioeconomic statusSocioeconomic disadvantage is associated with increased risk of being bullied.
A similar relationship is seen between self-perceived social status and cyberbullying.
Migration statusImmigrant children are more likely to be bullied than their native-born peers.
School environmentA positive school environment reduces bullying.
Educational attainmentOverall, educational attainment is a protective factor against being bullied.
Peer and family supportFamily support and communication can be an important protective factor.