School bullying, homicide and income inequality: a cross-national pooled time series analysis

Int J Public Health. 2013 Apr;58(2):237-45. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0380-y. Epub 2012 Jun 20.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Schools*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • World Health Organization