Percentage of students experiencing bullying in the last 12 months in a) primary and b) lower secondary education


SDG Indicator 4.a.2: Percent of students subjected to bullying in the past 12 months (or alternative period as available in the source data) at the primary or lower secondary levels. Bullying is defined to include when possible physical, verbal and relational abuse. This scope reflects current research on bullying as well as the definitions for major international student assessments.

Data source

Data for this indicator is drawn from two sources: cross national health surveys and cross-national learning assessments. For cross national health surveys, the sources are the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey and the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS). Estimates for the HBSC were obtained from UNESCO (2019), and estimates for the GSHS were obtained from GSHS Country Fact Sheet series (GSHS 2020). For the cross-national learning assessments, the following were used: LLECE 2013; PISA 2018; and TIMSS 2015.
GSHS (2020). Country Fact Sheets. Accessed:
UNESCO 2019. Behind the numbers: ending school violence and bullying. Paris: UNESCO.

Source definition

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Calculation method

Estimated proportion of students reporting any form of bullying in the past 12 months (or as available depending on the datasource). For cross-national assessments with more than one assessment in the same level of education, the average of the grades is used.

Data required

Data representative of a grade or age-range corresponding to the specified level of education that include whether or not a child has been exposed to bullying as defined.


A higher value of the indicator implies a higher prevalence of bullying.


There are slight variations in the definition of bullying, and important differences in the target population and their characteristics including age across the different assessments. The GSHS and HBSC datasets measure bullying in a much shorter time period than the SDG indicator, at the past few months for the HBSC data and at the past 30 days for the GSHS data. These indicators are expected to be lower than estimates from the student assessment data which span the past year when possible. The GSHS and HBSC data in the data combine ages 11 to 15 and are coded as secondary level.


This indicator intends to measure experiences related to bullying such as being called by an offensive nickname, being threatened to be hurt, or other students posting offensive pictures or texts about them. Bullying has been linked to reduce academic and health outcomes for victims and for perpetrators.

Quality standards

The UIS compiles and aggregates data from different sources and defines a protocol for reporting. To address the differences in data collection, target populations, and timeframe for bullying, the UIS recommends for reporting purposes that indicator values for each country come from the survey programme in which they have participated that provides estimates that most closely match SDG 4.a.2.

Types of disaggregation

By level of schooling, sex, urban or rural school location, and by high or low SES of students (defined as the highest and lowest 50 percent in terms of measured SES in the assessment); immigrant status and parity indices are available in the GSHS and HBSC data.