We examined whether socioeconomic status (SES) could be used to identify which schools or children are at greatest risk of bullying, which can adversely affect children’s health and life.
We conducted a review of published literature on school bullying and SES. We identified 28 studies that reported an association between roles in school bullying (victim, bully, and bully-victim) and measures of SES. Random effects models showed SES was weakly related to bullying roles. Adjusting for publication bias, victims (odds ratio [OR] = 1.40; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.24, 1.58) and bully-victims (OR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.36, 1.74) were more likely to come from low socioeconomic households. Bullies (OR = 0.98; 95% CI = 0.97, 0.99) and victims (OR = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.94, 0.97) were slightly less likely to come from high socioeconomic backgrounds.
SES provides little guidance for targeted intervention, and all schools and children, not just those with more socioeconomic deprivation, should be targeted to reduce the adverse effects of bullying.