School bullying before and during COVID‐19: Results from a population‐based randomized design Academic Article uri icon

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  • We examined the impact of COVID-19 on bullying prevalence rates in a sample of 6578 Canadian students in Grades 4 to 12. To account for school changes associated with the pandemic, students were randomized at the school level into two conditions: (1) the pre-COVID-19 condition, assessing bullying prevalence rates retrospectively before the pandemic, and (2) the current condition, assessing rates during the pandemic. Results indicated that students reported far higher rates of bullying involvement before the pandemic than during the pandemic across all forms of bullying (general, physical, verbal, and social), except for cyber bullying, where differences in rates were less pronounced. Despite anti-Asian rhetoric during the pandemic, no difference was found between East Asian Canadian and White students on bullying victimization. Finally, our validity checks largely confirmed previous published patterns in both conditions: (1) girls were more likely to report being bullied than boys, (2) boys were more likely to report bullying others than girls, (3) elementary school students reported higher bullying involvement than secondary school students, and (4) gender diverse and LGTBQ + students reported being bullied at higher rates than students who identified as gender binary or heterosexual. These results highlight that the pandemic may have mitigated bullying rates, prompting the need to consider retaining some of the educational reforms used to reduce the spread of the virus that could foster caring interpersonal relationships at school such as reduced class sizes, increased supervision, and blended learning.


  • Vaillancourt, Tracy
  • Brittain, Heather
  • Krygsman, Amanda
  • Farrell, Ann H
  • Landon, Sally
  • Pepler, Debra

publication date

  • September 2021