A new study in Ireland revels that one-in-four girls and one-in-three boys between the ages of four and 13 are bullied.

When interviewed 25% of the female students reveled they have been physically attacked by bullies the previous three months and 33% of the boys.

The study, carried out by an academic of Trinity College on 5,500 school going children a few years ago, showed that female students were more likely to suffer bullying in elementary school and middle school than in high school.

One-in-15 of the boys claimed they were physically bullied once a week or once a day.

The study also reveled that one-in-four of the girls in high school have had rumors spread about them

While male bullying is more physical, female bullying comes in the form of exclusion, being ignored or having lies told about them.

Many victims are frightened into silence and are afraid to tell their parents, the survey found.

The report concluded that such bullying can destroy a child's confidence and provoke low self-esteem.

It can also cause long-term emotional, psychological and physical damage.

The study, carried out from 2004-2005, was only released last week in the journal 'Irish Educational Studies'.

The only difference between now and then is that harm is now being caused through cyber-bullying, especially through text messages.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation welcomed the study, saying bullying must be faced up to and dealt with by everyone.

"Every school year thousands of teacher hours are spent investigating allegations, monitoring particular situations, following up on cases and meeting with parents and pupils," a spokesperson said.

An editorial in 'Irish Educational Studies' said the implications of the study were potentially significant for educational policy as it goes beyond bullying/victim problems to a wider focus on aggressive behaviour.