PISA 2015 data reveals that bullying is a major issue in schools

29 June 2017

Bullying is a major issue in schools, according to the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) survey launched by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2015 and published in 2017. The survey was responded to by 540,000 15-year-old students from 72 countries.
Around 11% of students reported that other students made fun of them at least a few times per month, while 4% said they were hit or pushed around by other students at least a few times per month.

Who is most likely to be bullied?

Girls are victims of physical aggression less often than boys are. However, they report slightly more incidents of psychological bullying including rumors - 9.2% of girls and 7.6 % of boys said that they were victims of nasty rumors at least a few times per month. The study shows that bullies target particularly recently arrived immigrant students as well as low-performing students. It is noteworthy that students who receive support from their parents when facing difficulties at school, report less victimization.

Bullying has a range of negative effects

Students frequently exposed to bullying reported a series of negative educational consequences including truancy and a weaker sense of belonging at school. On average, about 42% of students who are frequently bullied said they felt like an outsider in school, against only 15% of students who are not exposed to bullying. Students in schools where bullying is frequent, score 47 points lower in science than students in schools where bullying occurs less frequently. Overall, victims of bullying report less satisfaction with life.

A better school environment could prevent bullying from happening

The study reveals that the proportion of frequently bullied students is about seven percentage points larger in schools with a poor disciplinary climate than in schools with a good climate, in reference to the country average measured by the OECD (before accounting for students’ and schools’ socio-economic profile). Students who attend schools where perceptions of teachers’ unfair behaviour are above the national average, are 12 percentage points more likely to be frequently bullied than students in schools where these perceptions are below the national average. This could indicate that bullying is more frequent in schools where students do not perceive their teachers as effective in transmitting norms of respectful and non-violent behaviour.

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