A student is bullied when another student says or does nasty and unpleasant things to him or her, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Being teased repeatedly or being deliberately left out of things also qualifies as bullying.
The WHO has published today its Health Behaviour in School-aged Children report, after collecting data from almost 220,000 young people in 42 countries in Europe and North America.
Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Estonia are the countries where bullying is more prominent among young children, according to the WHO’s findings.
More than 20% of 11-year-old kids in these countries claimed they were bullied at least two or three times a month.
At the bottom of the ranking are Armenia, Sweden and Greece, where only between 3% and 7% of kids said they suffered bullying.
Belgium, Canada, France and the Netherlands are among the countries where more than 10% of young kids have been a victim, while in Italy and Spain less than 10% said they suffered this kind of harassment.
Short and long-term effects of involvement in bullying, both as perpetrator and victim, have been documented.
Depression, suicidal ideation, violence, problem drinking and substance use can be part of the negative outcome of involvement in bullying.
“Zero tolerance” must be the answer to this kind of behavior, says Carmen Moreno, leading investigator for the WHO in Spain.
The role of bullying observers is also key to putting an end to it, that is why Moreno urges anyone who witnesses harassment to report it.
“Passivity allows the bullying to perpetuate itself, that is why it is essential to denounce it,” she said.