6.5 Bullying and negative behaviours

A positive classroom environment can reduce bullying

Many teachers recognise the importance of a good classroom environment and strive to create social activities to give the class shared, positive experiences (Eriksen and Lyng 2015, Kofoed and Søndergaard 2009, Kofoed and Søndergaard 2013). In classes without a good classroom environment and without a “valid we”, a status hierarchy may arise where some pupils are “in” and others are “out”, and where bullying and other forms of negative behaviour may occur. It can be difficult for a teacher to observe interactions between pupils and between different groups of pupils in the class (Eriksen and Lyng 2015). One challenge is that much of this interaction takes place on social media, which is difficult for the teacher or other adults to observe directly (Staksrud 2013).

Bullying and other negative behaviours have a negative impact on the pupils’ school life. 3.7 per cent of pupils who report that they are bullied at least 2–3 times a month (The Pupil Survey 2015). 15.1 per cent of pupils said they had been subjected to various types of negative behaviour at school. By 2015 this figure had fallen to 14.3 per cent (Wendelborg 2016a).

Mostly verbal behaviours

Negative behaviour among pupils usually involve verbal behaviour. The most common negative behaviour is making fun of or teasing someone so that the recipient gets upset. Next follows exclusion, being lied about and receiving negative comments about appearance. Physical actions such as hitting, kicking, pushing and being held down are less common. Pupils subjected to these types of behaviour are more likely to say they are being bullied than pupils experiencing other types of negative behaviour (Wendelborg 2016a).

Equal numbers of boys and girls are bullied in lower secondary school

In recent years the Pupil Survey has revealed that bullying diminishes with age during primary school before increasing again in lower secondary school, see Figure 6.5. The proportion of pupils being bullied then drops again throughout upper secondary. In primary and upper secondary it is mostly boys who suffer from bullying, but there are no gender differences at the lower secondary level.

Figure 6.2 Pupils subjected to bullying and other negative behaviours. 2015. Per cent.


Source: The Pupil Survey (Wendelborg 2016a)

Figure 6.3 Pupils who say they get bullied 2–3 times a month or more. 2015. Per cent.


Source: The Pupil Survey (Wendelborg 2016a)

Pupils with the lowest and highest grades are bullied the most

The pupils with the highest and the lowest grades are bullied more often than other pupils. 6.5 per cent of pupils with the lowest grades say they are regularly bullied at school, see Figure 6.4. Among pupils with the highest grades the figure is 7.3 per cent. The pattern is the same for other types of negative behaviour. Pupils with the highest and lowest grades are more likely to be made fun of or teased, to be excluded, to be lied about, to receive threats, and to be physically attacked. The differences are less discernible when it comes to negative comments about appearance (Wendelborg and Caspersen 2016).

Figure 6.4 Pupils who are bullied and subjected to negative behaviours according to grades. 2015. Per cent.


Source: The Pupil Survey (Wendelborg and Caspersen 2016)

Figure 6.5 Bullying and negative behaviours by gender. 2015. Per cent.


Source: The Pupil Survey