How did bullying become a global epidemic?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It comes on the heels of the latest UNICEF report tracking violence against children worldwide. Hidden in Plain Sight  is a sobering overview of the many ways that we inflict violence on the young. It is also a timely reminder that adult and peer to peer abuse (bullying) are a global phenomenon.

The causes for any social issue are complex. But we can identify some of the major influences. The UNICEF report describes corporal punishment and violent psychological discipline as “the most common form of violence against children”. The majority of children (2 to 14 years old) have experienced violent discipline from their caregivers in most countries during the past month. In the US the numbers are about one in three. There is repeated evidence that youth who have been maltreated by caregivers are significantly more likely to bully others.

A less well-known influencer is the size of the national income gap between the rich and the poor. The bigger the national gap (such as within the US and the UK) the higher the level of student conflict and bullying across the whole society. For a compelling argument that this income gap actually causes higher levels of bullying, see this month’s interview with Professor Wilkinson.

To download a copy of Hidden in Plain Sight visit