Almost one-third of school students report being bullied.

A project billed as the first comprehensive study of school bullying around the world has found adolescent boys from lower socio-economic backgrounds are most likely to be the victims of bullying.

The study, led by University of Queensland researchers, investigated the prevalence of bullying victimisation during school years among more than 310,000 students.

The data was collected from students aged from 12 to 17 years in 83 low, middle, and high income countries across much of South East Asia, Africa, and parts of South America and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Researcher Tuhin Biswas of UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research said the study, which is based on data collected from Global School-based Health Surveys between 2003 and 2015, revealed 30 per cent of the students had experienced bullying, with younger males from poorer backgrounds most at risk.

The international research team examined all six World Health Organization regions and determined the highest prevalence of bullying in the Eastern Mediterranean area at 45.1 per cent, followed by Africa at 43.5 per cent, with the lowest rate in Europe at 8.4 per cent.

The study also revealed the country with the highest prevalence of school bullying was Samoa at 75 per cent and the lowest was Tajikistan at seven per cent.

UQ’s Professor Janeen Baxter says victimisation during school years can echo throughout a person’s life.

“Adolescents experiencing bullying have an increased risk of physical, cognitive and mental health issues, including higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidality,” Professor Baxter said.

“They are also more likely to experience difficulties in their academic performance, which can lead to long-term employment and financial consequences for both the individual and their family.

“Any interventions to address this global problem will also address the major social and economic costs in lost productivity and life opportunities.”