Mothers and Children as Informants of Bullying Victimization: Results from an Epidemiological Cohort of Children

MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, Box Number p080, London, SE5 8AF, UK.
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.09). 10/2010; 39(3):379-87. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-010-9463-5
Source: PubMed


Stressful events early in life can affect children's mental health problems. Collecting valid and reliable information about children's bad experiences is important for research and clinical purposes. This study aimed to (1) investigate whether mothers and children provide valid reports of bullying victimization, (2) examine the inter-rater reliability between the two informants, (3) test the predictive validity of their reports with children's emotional and behavioral problems and (4) compare the genetic and environmental etiology of bullying victimization as reported by mothers and children. We assessed bullying victimization in the Environmental-Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally-representative sample of 1,116 families with twins. We collected reports from mothers and children during private interviews, including detailed narratives. Findings showed that we can rely on mothers and children as informants of bullying victimization: both informants provided information which adhered to the definition of bullying as involving repeated hurtful actions between peers in the presence of a power imbalance. Although mothers and children modestly agreed with each other about who was bullied during primary and secondary school, reports of bullying victimization from both informants were similarly associated with children's emotional and behavioral problems and provided similar estimates of genetic and environmental influences. Findings from this study suggest that collecting information from multiple informants is ideal to capture all instances of bullying victimization. However, in the absence of child self-reports, mothers can be considered as a viable alternative, and vice versa.

Download full-text


Available from: Sania Shakoor
  • Source
    • "Although interrater reliability between mothers and children was only modest (k ¼ 0.20–0.29), reports of victimization from both informants were similarly associated with children's emotional and behavioral problems, suggesting that each informant provides a unique but meaningful perspective on bullying involvement (Shakoor et al., 2011). We thus combined mother and child reports of victimization to capture all instances of bullying victimization for primary and secondary school separately: reported as not victimized by both mother and child; reported by either mother or child as being occasionally victimized; and reported as being occasionally victimized by both informants or as frequently victimized by either mother or child or both (Bowes et al., 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper presents multilevel findings on adolescents' victimization exposure from a large longitudinal cohort of twins. Data were obtained from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, an epidemiological study of 2,232 children (1,116 twin pairs) followed to 18 years of age (with 93% retention). To assess adolescent victimization, we combined best practices in survey research on victimization with optimal approaches to measuring life stress and traumatic experiences, and introduce a reliable system for coding severity of victimization. One in three children experienced at least one type of severe victimization during adolescence (crime victimization, peer/sibling victimization, Internet/mobile phone victimization, sexual victimization, family violence, maltreatment, or neglect), and most types of victimization were more prevalent among children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Exposure to multiple victimization types was common, as was revictimization; over half of those physically maltreated in childhood were also exposed to severe physical violence in adolescence. Biometric twin analyses revealed that environmental factors had the greatest influence on most types of victimization, while severe physical maltreatment from caregivers during adolescence was predominantly influenced by heritable factors. The findings from this study showcase how distinct levels of victimization measurement can be harmonized in large-scale studies of health and development.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Development and Psychopathology
  • Source
    • "The chosen method(s) of assessment in a study will therefore affect the prevalence estimates. There was only one informant in this study, and other informants such as peers, parents or teachers should ideally also have been asked to provide information on bullying victimization in order to capture all instances, as each informant may contribute unique information [33]. However, among adolescents it is likely that self-report alone yields a reasonably accurate estimate, as people in this age group can be assumed to be able to report relatively precisely on their life events and are probably less likely than younger children to report victimization to their parents. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bullying among adolescents represents a major public health challenge. The aim of this study was to map the stability of bullying victimization across the transitional phase from lower to upper secondary school, and to describe the sociodemographic, academic and health-related characteristics of those bullied during the transition. 3674 Norwegian adolescents were followed longitudinally from the age of 15/16 until the age of 18/19, answering questionnaires about health, academic achievements, life events, lifestyle and sociodemography. The 337 participants reporting exposure to bullying victimization at age 15/16 were the target group, as we made comparisons between those reporting victimization only at the age of 15/16 (n=289) with the participants for whom the bullying had continued into later adolescence (n = 48). 14% of those victimized at age 15/16, reported continuation of bullying victimization into upper secondary school. These adolescents were significantly more likely to report having divorced parents, low parental educational level, poor self-perceived economy, muscle and skeletal pain, symptoms of mental distress, lower school marks in Norwegian and higher body-mass index (BMI) when group differences at age 18/19 were assessed through basic inferential statistical tests. However, the multivariate logistic regression analyses only revealed statistically significantly increased adjusted odds ratios for the variables mental distress and school-marks in Norwegian. The persistence of exposure to bullying from 10th grade to 13th grade is associated with mental health complaints and poor school performance. Preventive measures to take care of students being continuously bullied should be in place in secondary schools.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health
  • Source
    • "Parent reports of children's victimization have been shown to be valid indicators of children's experiences (Shakoor et al., 2011), and significant medium sized correlations between teacher and parent ratings have been reported (Bonnet, Goossens, & Schuengel, 2011). Moreover, parents and teachers show strong agreement as to which children are victims (Bonnet et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The study examined pre-kindergarten teacher–child relationship as a predictor of peer victimization up to first grade, assessed whether this role moderated risks from children's social withdrawal and/or aggression. Participants were 377 Australian children from 12 schools. Parent ratings of victimization in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade were used, as well as prekindergarten self-ratings of parenting. Teacher-ratings of conflict and closeness, child aggression and social withdrawal were collected in pre-kindergarten. Two-part growth curve analyses conjointly modeled the likelihood of being victimized and severity of victimization. Teacher–child conflict in prekindergarten predicted the likelihood of concurrent and first grade victimization; closeness in prekindergarten was protective of more severe victimization over time. Conflict also moderated the relationship between social withdrawal and growth in severity of victimization. Discussion focuses on elucidating the ‘invisible hand’ of the teacher in peer dynamics, and on interventions for reducing conflict and promoting closeness in the classroom.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Show more