The majority of Britons have been bullied – and it had a significant impact on most

Joanna MorrisData Journalist
February 23, 2023, 10:55 AM GMT+0

Schools and workplaces are at the centre of most of Britain’s bullying

Two thirds of Britons (66%) say they have been bullied at some point in their lives, according to a new YouGov poll.

One in five people (21%) say they experienced bullying as an adult, while six in ten Britons (59%) were bullied as a child (some respondents will have been bullied in both childhood and adulthood).

Older Britons aged 65 and over are least likely to say (or remember) that they’ve been bullied, with 52% saying they have been, compared to between 63% and 72% of other age groups.

Those who experienced bullying as a child are most likely to say it happened repeatedly: 42% say it happened many times while a further 38% say it happened on several occasions. Only 17% say it only happened once or twice.

Bullying as an adult seems to have been less sustained: a lower figure of 23% of victims say it happened many times. Around half say they were subjected to bullying several times (47%), while 28% say it happened only once or twice.

Majority of bullied Britons say being targeted by bullies had a significant impact on their life

Three-quarters of people who were bullied as an adult say the experience impacted their life a great deal (35%) or a fair amount (39%).

In comparison, one in five of those bullied as children (20%) say it had a great deal of impact while 37% say it had a fair amount of impact on their life.

Just 4% of Britons targeted by bullies in adulthood say it had no impact on their life, while one in ten (10%) of those bullied as children say the same.

Classmates blamed by most of those bullied as children

Nearly nine in ten (87%) of those who were bullied in childhood say they were bullied by a classmate, with friends (15%) and teachers (13%) also among the culprits cited.

And a significant proportion of those Britons say they were targeted by members of their own family, including 12% who were bullied by a parent, 11% by a sibling and 5% by another family member.

One in five bullied adults say they were targeted by their partner

A significant proportion of Britons bullied as an adult say they have suffered at the hands of those who arguably should love them the most – their spouse or partner.

One in five (20%) report being bullied by a partner, while 16% have been bullied by other family members, including 8% who say they were bullied by a parent and 6% who were bullied by a sibling.

However, the most likely source of bullying in adulthood is the workplace – more than half of those bullied as adults (56%) say they have been bullied by a boss or manager and 47% by a colleague.

Most Britons bullied as children were physically attacked

Around six in ten Britons (58%) bullied in childhood say their bully physically attacked them, including 11% who say they were attacked “many times”.

Men are more likely than women to have been physically set upon by their childhood bully, at 68% to 48%.

But when it comes to bullying in adulthood, the gender gap narrows – 21% of those who say they were bullied as an adult report being attacked at least once or twice, including 19% of men and 23% of women.

Those who were bullied in adulthood are more likely to describe the worst bullying they were subjected to as severe, with 71% of bullied adults saying it was compared to 49% of Britons bullied in childhood.

Internet brings shift in the nature of bullying for young people

The nature of bullying has shifted since the advent of the internet, with 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds who were bullied as a child saying at least some of the bullying they experienced took place online – although almost all say they were also bullied in person.

One in six Britons (18%) who have experienced bullying as an adult say at least part of it happened online.

Picture: Getty

See full tables here

Explore more data & articles