Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Social exclusion is first bullying tactic
Excluding victims from games is a prevalent form of bullying
Social exclusion is the most common form of bullying in infant classes, according to research.
Researchers from two London universities have found that children aged between four and six are most likely to bully their victims by telling them they cannot join in games and activities.
Physical bullying is the next most common type of bullying, closely followed by verbal bullying.
But spreading rumours is a bullying tactic which is rarely used in this age group, the findings show.
Children nominated peers
The research, carried out by academics at Goldsmiths College, London, and University College, London, was being presented to the British Psychological Society's Developmental Section Conference in Nottingham on Tuesday.
A total of 104 children were interviewed, and cartoons were used to help illustrate bullying situations.
If fewer than four classmates nominated a child for a role, he or she was described as a bystander.
The results show that 39% of children were classified as bullies, 34% as bystanders, 18% as victims, 7% as defenders and 2% as bullies/victims.
'Tailored inverventions needed'
Of the children classified as bullies, 23% were nominated for bullying by social exclusion, compared with 16% for physical bullying, 14% verbal bullying and 2% rumour-spreading.
More boys than girls were described as bullies, while more girls were seen as bystanders.
Claire Monks, of Goldsmiths College, London, said: "At this age, bullies are less likely to use sophisticated methods, such as spreading rumours.
"They are more likely to include physical bullying and name-calling. The research shows that age appropriate bullying interventions should be tailored to involve the class as a whole and to take into account the range of different bullying strategies."