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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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Contents >> Social and emotional wellbeing >> Bullying at school


SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING: BULLYING AT SCHOOL
This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


KEY MESSAGES
  • In 2008, one in ten (11%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years reported being bullied at school because of their Indigenous origin.

Bullying constitutes harmful, unsolicited behaviour that attempts to undermine an individual or group. Bullying can be physical, verbal or emotional and is typically repeated over a period of time. The effects of bullying include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness (Endnote 1).

This topic presents results from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), which provides the first available ABS data on bullying among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. In this survey, 'bullying' refers only to those situations in which the child was bullied at school for being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander — not bullying in general.

In 2008, one in ten (11%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years reported being bullied at school because of their Indigenous status. Overall, there was little difference in the proportions of boys (11%) and girls (10%) who had experienced bullying, however rates were higher among children living in non-remote areas, where 12% of children had experienced bullying compared with 7% of children in remote areas.

Of those children who had been bullied, 34% said that their school attendance had been affected and 17% said that the bullying had impacted on their progress at school. Likewise, more than one-third of children (38%) reported having trouble either making friends, playing with other children or taking part in sport/leisure activities at school as a result of the bullying behaviour.

Experience of bullying was also related to other areas of children's wellbeing. Although bullying at school was not associated with poorer self-assessed health status in 2008, children who had been bullied were more likely than those who had not been bullied to have had problems sleeping (31% compared with 20%) and to have been exposed to at least one life stressor in the previous year (81% compared with 62%). The most common type of stressor reported by children who were bullied at school was problems keeping up with school work (37%), whereas for children who had not been bullied it was death of a close family member or friend (21%). Children who had experienced bullying were also more likely than children who had not experienced bullying to report being scared or upset by an argument or someone's behaviour (29% compared with 18%) and having been physically hurt by someone (11% compared with 4%) (graph 6.1).

6.1 TYPES OF STRESSORS(a)(b) BY WHETHER BULLIED AT SCHOOL, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years—2008
chart: types of stressors experienced by whether bullied, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years, 2008
(a) Experienced in the last 12 months.
(b) Respondents may have reported more than one type of stressor.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
These estimates are also available for download in the Social and emotional wellbeing datacube



ENDNOTES

1. Williams, K., Forgás, J., and von Hippel, W. (Eds.) 2005, The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection, and Bullying. Psychology Press, New York, NY.



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