"You see their smile, hear their laugh, see their face, see you break down," the study, led by Queensland University of Technology (QUT), quoted a 12-year-old girl participant as saying."It clearly indicates the feelings of the children and the very real threat they have of being physically harmed by another child," said professor Marilyn Campbell of QUT who supervised the study.The study examined 156 students to describe their perceptions of being bullied.

Campbell said the study showed 59 percent of the children participants felt face-to-face bullying was worse for them than being cyber-bullied.Twenty-six per cent reported that both forms of bullying were equally hurtful and the remaining 15 per cent perceived cyber-bullying to be worse.She said earlier studies found Australian school students reported the highest prevalence of peer aggression among OECD countries.

"Children reported being scared and very worried by the attacks but it was interesting to find a majority of them were embarrassed that others were witnessing their victimisation as it occurred," Campbell noted.She said recent Australian studies have reported traditional victimisation prevalence rates of between 16 and 40 per cent among students.

She also said a 2008 survey of about 40 countries found Australian primary schools had the highest reported incidence of bullying in the world.She also said a review of Australian studies found a conservative prevalence estimate for being cyber-bullied in a 12-month period was approximately 20 per cent of children aged between eight to 17.

"These students specifically referred to the proximity of the bully during the incidents which suggests proximity makes it more emotionally impacting than when it is buffered by the distance that the online setting provides," Campbell said.The study was published in the Journal of School Violence.

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