The third volume of the Annual Statistical Report series for Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) has been released. This series aims to provide the evidence base for future research and policy development to support family functioning and children’s health and wellbeing.
Of particular interest to health and community professionals working with children affected by mental health difficulties and their families, chapter 7 looks at children’s experiences of unfriendly behaviour. The research highlights that a significant proportion of children may experience bullying. Almost three in five children aged 10-11 years reported that they had been picked on through some form of unfriendly behaviour in the previous 12 months. 
While boys and girls experienced similar levels of bullying, boys were more likely to report overt unfriendly behaviours like pushing and shoving, while girls were more likely to report covert types like social exclusion and note writing. According to the report, this supports the view that there is a need to distinguish between various forms of bullying by boys and girls to enable appropriate interventions to be devised and applied. 
Other interesting findings include:
  • Children are more likely to be picked on if they are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, lone-mother families or are overweight.
  • School type or size did not appear to be related to children’s reports of experiences of unfriendly behaviours.
  • The quality of children’s attachments to teachers and parents is likely to be an important factor in a child’s willingness to disclose peer victimisation to these adults. Both boys and girls who had been picked on reported lower levels of parental and teacher attachment than those who had not. 
More broadly, by providing statistical snapshots of children’s development and wellbeing across time, this report is a valuable source of information for health and community professionals. 
For more information and to read the report in full, visit the Growing Up in Australia website