Disturbing figures emerge from the latest Eurispes-Telefono Azzurro report on bullying amongst school children, with a quarter of youngsters declaring themselves to have been victims of intimidation, according to the survey. The forms of bullying adopted include nasty tricks (27.8 per cent) and name calling (25.6 per cent). Boys are the preferred targets for threatening behaviour (15.4 per cent compared to 7 per cent for girls), while girls tend to suffer more from being isolated by their friends (20.2 per cent compared to 14.9 per cent for boys).

The defensive methods used vary, but only 9.8 per cent resort to physical violence to protect themselves, whereas just a small proportion of victims tell a teacher or parent what is going on (13.2 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively). Worryingly, almost a third of the favoured prey for bullies are gays, foreigners, the disabled and