Schoolchildren around the globe are troubled by bullying, but those in Japan tend to suffer more social abuse than their peers in Sweden, a recent study has shown--and adult behavior could be to blame.

The study, conducted by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research and the research lab of Antoinette Hetzler, a professor of sociology at Lund University in Sweden, compared the nature of bullying in the two nations where violent crimes tend to be less common than in other countries.

It asked sixth-grade and eighth-grade students on how they have been bullied in three separate sessions between 2013 and 2015, each covering 350 to 500 children in Sweden and 700 in Japan.

They were also asked how often they were bullied in four stages: Once or twice within the school term; two to three times a month; once a week; or several times a week.

Forms of light physical abuse such as being bumped, hit or kicked were more common in Sweden, in both age groups and gender groups, when statistics in the four stages were combined.

In the Scandinavian nation, 65.6 percent of sixth-grade boys had experienced light physical abuse, compared with 32.8 percent in Japan.

However, types of social abuse including exclusion, ignoring and backbiting were more common in Japan, in both age groups and gender groups, when records in all four stages were tallied together.

While 21.4 percent of sixth-grade Swedish girls had experienced social bullying, the number was 43.4 percent in Japanese girls the same age. Sixth-grade boys, too, had similar tendencies.

Mitsuru Taki, a senior researcher at the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, believes adults could be to blame.

“Japan, which has experienced school violence in the past, tends to take a firm stance on physical attacks, but regarding social abuse, children must feel that it’s OK to exclude others or talk behind their backs because adults are doing it too.

“One such example is bullying children evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by saying, ‘You’re receiving cash compensation, aren’t you.’”

He added: “In Sweden, abuses such as exclusion are considered a violation of human rights, and the country has long worked to put a stop to (social bullying between children) by involving adults through the law.”

How abuse in Japan tends to be less violent and more socially oriented was also shown in a study conducted in 2004 comparing bullying in the nation with that in South Korea, Australia and Canada.