Feeling Unsafe at School Among Adolescents in 13 Asian and European Countries: Occurrence and Associated Factors


Yuko Mori, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Elina Tiiri, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Lotta Lempinen, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Anat Brunstein Klomek, Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Reichman University, Herzliya, Israel.
Gerasimos Kolaitis, Department of Child Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
Helena R. Slobodskaya, Department of Medicine, Scientific Research Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Hitoshi Kaneko, Psychological Support and Research Center for Human Development, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.
Jorge C. Srabstein, Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children's National Hospital, Washington, DC, United States.
Liping Li, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, China.
Mai Nguyen Huong, Department of Psychiatry, Vietnam National Children's Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Samir Kumar Praharaj, Department of Psychiatry, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India.
Say How Ong, Department of Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, Singapore.
Sigita Lesinskiene, Vilnius University, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Clinic of Psychiatry, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Henriette Kyrrestad, Faculty of Health Sciences, Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.
Tjhin Wiguna, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Zahra Zamani, Department of Community Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Lauri Sillanmäki, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Andre Sourander, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Frontiers in psychiatry






adolescent; associated factors; cross-national comparisons; feeling unsafe; mental health; occurrence; school climate; school safety


Background: Research on perceived school safety has been largely limited to studies conducted in Western countries and there has been a lack of large-scale cross-national studies on the topic. Methods: The present study examined the occurrence of adolescents who felt unsafe at school and the associated factors of perceived school safety in 13 Asian and European countries. The data were based on 21,688 adolescents aged 13-15 (11,028 girls, 10,660 boys) who completed self-administered surveys between 2011 and 2017. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Findings: The number of adolescents who felt unsafe at school varied widely across countries, with a mean occurrence of 31.4% for the total sample: 31.3% for girls, and 31.1% for boys. The findings revealed strong independent associations between feeling unsafe and individual and school-related factors, such as being bullied, emotional and behavioral problems and feeling that teachers did not care. The study also found large variations in perceived school safety between schools in many countries. Conclusion: The findings emphasize the need to create safe educational environments for all students, based on positive relationships with teachers and peers. School-based interventions to prevent bullying and promote mental health should be a natural part of school safety promotion.


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences