Researchers have found that country-level income inequality during the first four years of a child's life can be associated with later bully victimisation.
According to the study, which surveyed approximately 874,000 children in 40 medium and high-income countries in Europe, North America and Israel, growing up in areas with income inequality is associated with being bullied.
The study, published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, was conducted by an international team led by Frank Elgar of Mcgill University, and other Canadian researchers together with scholars from Ireland, Poland, Romania, and Israel.
The researchers utilized 35 years of data from the World Health Organization's Health Behaviors in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study, a survey carried out every four years. The HBSC uses representative samples of 11, 13 and 15-year-olds in each country.
According to the study, country-level income inequality during the first four years of a child's life (rather than school age years) was associated with later bully victimization.
"One might think that children become aware of income inequality at school, but it seems that the impact of income inequality comes at a time before children would actually have awareness of it," said Sophie Walsh, lead researcher of the study.
Walsh noted that these effects may be related to processes that occur within the family which connects to higher levels of income inequality.
The researchers also found that income inequality did not predict whether kids would become bullies rather than victims of bullying.
"It is possible that the relationship found between measures of economic inequality and rates of bullying victimization is a reflection of differences in exposure to key protective factors such as coherent family culture, parental and teacher support, positive school experience, healthy peer connectedness and access to organized extracurricular activities," said Yossi Harel-Fisch, director of the International Research Program on Adolescent Well-Being and Health.
"Resiliency factors such as these have been demonstrated in many studies as predicting lower victimization rates. In societies suffering from significant socio-economic inequalities, these resiliency factors might be limited, thus effecting higher levels of bullying victimization," Harel-Fisch added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)