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Smith, P.J., Cowie, H., Olafsson, R.F., & Liefoogle, A.P.D. (2002). Definitions of bullying: A comparison of terms used, and age and gender differences in a fourteen-country international comparison. Child Development, 73, 1119–1133.

The present study examined various terms used to define bullying in 14 countries.

Method: A series of 25 stick-figure cartoons, that showed different situations that may be bullying, was developed (Smith, 1999). Each cartoon had a caption in the native language. Different sets were used for males and females. 1,245 eight and fourteen year old children participated.

Results: The first cluster consisted of 19 terms, which were higher on physical, verbal, and social exclusion bullying variables than the physical aggression variable. This cluster was similar to the English term bullying. The second cluster consisted of six terms which was higher on social exclusion. The third cluster had seven terms, which were higher on the verbal variable than the physical and social exclusion bullying variables. The fourth cluster had 19 terms, which were weighed mostly on the verbal variable, moderately on the physical bullying cluster, and less on the social exclusion cluster. The fifth cluster weighed heavily on physical bullying. The sixth cluster, which had 13 terms, weighed highest on physical bullying but moderately on the other types of bullying. The French used the term violence to describe bullying.

Discussion: The results indicated that 8-year-olds has a less understanding of terms than the 14-year-olds. At eight years old, children are able to distinguish between nonaggressive and aggressive scenarios but not among different types of aggression. The age differences existed across the countries surveyed.