20pc of girls hurt by violent female bullies

STUDY: School attacks are on rise

Jane Last

ONE in every five girls in primary school has been physically hurt by female bullies, a new study has shown.

The study also shows that the same applies to one-in-seven girls in post-primary education.

Overall physical bullying by female pupils is on the rise.

Anti-bullying expert Dr Mona O'Moore from TCD says that "the increase in physical aggression among girls is evident in many cultures, especially in Ireland".

The level of physical bullying by boys has remained the same -- one in three boys is physically hurt in school -- but it has increased among girls. She says that girls become more physically aggressive with age.

One reason for the increase is the media's portrayal of women as aggressive and ambitious and at times even resorting to physical aggression to achieve their aims. Another is the decline in "gender differentiation" between boys and girls.

Direct physical aggression by girls and boys includes all forms of pushing, shoving, poking, grabbing, hair-pulling, hitting, spitting, biting, scratching, punching, head-butting and tripping someone up.


She quotes one girl who said "one girl called me names about my teeth. If I say something back to her she kicks and hits me across the head".

Dr O'Moore says there is evidence to suggest that girls who bully in childhood will develop an aggressive parental style.

But it's not just physical aggression, as other forms of bullying are also rampant in school such as verbal bullying, isolation and exclusion of individuals, cyber bullying, and extortion where victims are forced to give money to bullies.

In a new book entitled Understanding School Bullying -- A Guide For Parents And Teachers, published by Veritas, Dr O'Mooresays that:

  • At least one in five primary pupils is bullied and one in seven are bullies themselves as well as victims of bullying;
  • At post primary level at least one in eight is bullied and one in 20 is either bullied or a bully themselves.

"Pupils who are bullied at primary school are nearly twice as likely to miss school through illness and twice as likely to visit their doctor than are non-bullied children," she said.

She recommends the setting up of a Centre of Excellence which would provide resources for schools to help prevent bullying.