Objectives: To examine the relation between income inequality and school bullying (perpetration, victimisation and bully/victims) and explore whether the relation is attributable to international differences in violent crime.
Methods: Between 1994 and 2006, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study surveyed 117 nationally representative samples of adolescents about their involvement in school bullying over the previous 2 months. Country prevalence rates of bullying were matched to data on income inequality and homicides.
Results: With time and country differences held constant, income inequality positively related to the prevalence of bullying others at least twice (b = 0.25), victimisation by bullying at least twice (b = 0.29) and both bullied and victimisation at least twice (b = 0.40). The relation between income inequality and victimisation was partially mediated by country differences in homicides.
Conclusions: Understanding the social determinants of school bullying facilitates anti-bullying policy by identifying groups at risk and exposing its cultural and economic influences. This study found that cross-national differences in income inequality related to the prevalence of school bullying in most age and gender groups due, in part, to a social milieu of interpersonal violence.