Hush-hush bullying in schools more damaging to the mind

June 2nd, 2009 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Sydney, June 2 (IANS) As many as one in six high school students experience underground or hush-hush bullying regularly, according to a new study.
Researchers also found that it is more damaging psychologically, socially and mentally than open bullying, and also has the capacity to inflict social isolation.

Secretive bullying refers to subtle forms of aggression such as spreading rumours, damaging text messages and personal attacks through networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The study, undertaken by Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australia involved more than 20,000 high school students.

Secretive bullying is likely to become more prevalent, due to the increasing use of information and communication technology.

The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS) was conducted by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) at the ECU.

The study was commissioned to address the lack of current, reliable evidence about the nature and prevalence of underground bullying, and to determine the most effective policies and practices to address this problem.

The study was led by ECU professor Donna Cross and examined existing evidence, retrospective data from 13,330 students aged between eight and 14 years, and cross-sectional quantitative national data collected from 7,410 students aged eight to 15 years. The study also examined 456 school staff.

The ACBPS found that secretive bullying is a fairly common experience among secondary school students. Cross said such bullying by its very nature often goes unnoticed by adults and school staff, and it is becoming clear that students are less likely to report it, said an ECU release.

“Many schools have clear, standard policies for staff to follow in cases of overt bullying, but not covert bullying,” she said. “The teachers that took part in the study expressed the need for more information and training to help them understand and deal with covert bullying.”

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