Intended for healthcare professionals


Bullying in schools: doctors' responsibilities

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 04 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:274
  1. Judith Dawkins
  1. Research senior registrar Department of Mental Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE

    To ignore bullying is to condemn children to misery now and perhaps also in adult life

    Bullying is the intentional, unprovoked abuse of power by one or more children to inflict pain on or cause distress to another child on repeated occasions. It includes several different activities: hitting, pushing, spreading slanders, provoking, making threats, extortion, and robbery. A common, international phenomenon, it occurs to some extent in all schools.1 2 3 Whitney and Smith's study of more than 6000 pupils in 23 schools in Sheffield found that 27% of junior and middle school pupils and 10% of secondary school pupils said that they had been bullied sometimes or more often that term; 10% of junior and middle school pupils and 4% of secondary school pupils were being bullied at least once a week.3 Most had not told a teacher or anyone at home.

    Bullying can be considered to be a form of child abuse: peer abuse.4 Like other forms of abuse, it is an abuse of power and is surrounded by fear, secrecy, and a misplaced loyalty to the perpetrator(s). Victims suffer …

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