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Behaviour study picks on a global problem

South Korean pupils are more likely to be punched, kicked or ignored by classmates than children in other countries.

But Japanese pupils are most likely to be teased and name-called. And all pupils are equally likely to send each other bullying text messages, no matter where they come from.

Academics from the University of British Columbia, Canada, studied patterns of bullying among 1,398 pupils in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

They asked 11-year-olds whether they had been mean or negative to others in the past two months, and in what ways. They also asked whether they had been bullied by others, and if so, what form it took.

The results show that children across the world are bullied in similar ways, but to different extents.

Children in all countries were likely to bully or be bullied via email or text message and were equally likely to push, hit and kick each other on purpose.

But differences arose in other areas. Japanese pupils were unlikely to push or hit each other jokingly, while this was relatively common among South Korean pupils, who also tend to ignore others, or spread rumours about them more often than children in other countries. Japanese pupils rarely did this, while Australian pupils were unlikely to say it had happened to them.

South Korean pupils are also more likely than other children around the globe to have property stolen or vandalised.

The researchers say schemes designed to tackle bullying should be carefully modified to suit their target country. "These findings suggest considerable caution in understanding simple cross-national or cross-cultural comparisons across groups," the report said.

'Investigating the comparability of a self-report measure of childhood bullying across countries' by Chiaki Konishi et al.

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