Do Bullied Children Get Ill, or Do Ill Children Get Bullied? A Prospective Cohort Study on the Relationship Between Bullying and Health-Related Symptoms

Leiden University, Leyden, South Holland, Netherlands
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 06/2006; 117(5):1568-74. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2005-0187
Source: PubMed


A number of studies have shown that victimization from bullying behavior is associated with substantial adverse effects on physical and psychological health, but it is unclear which comes first, the victimization or the health-related symptoms. In our present study, we investigated whether victimization precedes psychosomatic and psychosocial symptoms or whether these symptoms precede victimization.
Six-month cohort study with baseline measurements taken in the fall of 1999 and follow-up measurements in the spring of 2000.
Eighteen elementary schools in the Netherlands.
The study included 1118 children aged 9 to 11 years, who participated by filling out a questionnaire on both occasions of data collection.
A self-administered questionnaire measured victimization from bullying, as well as a wide variety of psychosocial and psychosomatic symptoms, including depression, anxiety, bedwetting, headaches, sleeping problems, abdominal pain, poor appetite, and feelings of tension or tiredness.
Victims of bullying had significantly higher chances of developing new psychosomatic and psychosocial problems compared with children who were not bullied. In contrast, some psychosocial, but not physical, health symptoms preceded bullying victimization. Children with depressive symptoms had a significantly higher chance of being newly victimized, as did children with anxiety.
Many psychosomatic and psychosocial health problems follow an episode of bullying victimization. These findings stress the importance for doctors and health practitioners to establish whether bullying plays a contributing role in the etiology of such symptoms. Furthermore, our results indicate that children with depressive symptoms and anxiety are at increased risk of being victimized. Because victimization could have an adverse effect on children's attempts to cope with depression or anxiety, it is important to consider teaching these children skills that could make them less vulnerable to bullying behavior.

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    • "Specifically, reports of anxiety in the first semester of the school year was associated with increased bullying victimisation in the second semester for seventh graders, with significant but lower levels for eighth graders and ninth graders. This finding adds to the accumulating evidence that shows that social anxiety places children and adolescents at elevated risk for peer victimisation (Egan & Perry, 1998; Fekkes et al., 2006; Hodges et al., 1997; Ranta et al., 2013). A number of explanations can be offered for this. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the relationships between social loneliness, emotional loneliness, social anxiety and peer victimisation among 390 seventh- through ninth-grade secondary students. Data were collected in the fall and spring of the school year. Path analyses revealed that feelings of loneliness (both social and emotional) increased adolescents’ peer victimisation experiences, however social loneliness was associated with higher levels of peer victimisation than emotional loneliness in seventh and eighth grade. Early experiences of social anxiety significantly predicted bullying victimisation. Implications for research and intervention programmes are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · International journal of adolescence and youth
    • "While in some studies bullying and victimization were demonstrated to lead to emotional and behavioral problems (Arseneault, Bowes, & Shakoor, 2010; Nansel et al., 2001) others claim there is only evidence for the opposite direction of these effects (Hogdes & Perry, 1999; Schwartz, 2000; Veenstra et al., 2005). As highlighted by Fekkes et al. (2006), many studies only address a single directional path in the analyses of bullying and psychosocial problems, while increasing evidence shows complex, bidirectional effects are more likely to be at play in case of both internalizing as well as externalizing psychosocial problems. However, despite these advances, recent studies state that more longitudinal evidence is needed to unravel the complex, bidirectional associations between bullying behaviors and particular psychosocial problems (Arsenault et al., 2010; Reijntjes et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on school bullying often focuses on the directional path of bullying and/or victimization leading to psychosocial problems, while such one-dimensional views have been shown to be too simplistic. Furthermore, recent research has shown that patterns of bullying at school differ for boys and girls, which makes gender a particularly relevant factor in exploring the causes and consequences of bullying. Therefore, the present study explored the bidirectional, longitudinal associations of bullying and bullying victimization on several psychosocial problems via a longitudinal cross-lagged panel study in 1243 adolescents in the Netherlands, while taking into account potential gender differences. Data were collected in September 2011 and 2012. Results showed that both bullied boys as well as girls reported more conduct problems at follow-up. Both boy and girl bullies reported less pro-social behavior and more peer problems at follow-up, but boys also reported more conduct problems at follow-up, while girls did not. Furthermore, in girls, emotional problems were associated with more victimization at follow-up, while inattention-hyperactivity problems and less pro-social behavior were related to increased chances of being a perpetrator of bully at follow-up. Conversely, in boys, baseline inattention-hyperactivity problems were not associated with being a bully later on, but rather with increased chances of being a bullying victim at later times. These results can help to tailor future anti-bullying interventions at schools.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · School Psychology International
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    • "Research indicates that bullying has both immediate and longterm negative impacts on physical and mental health (e.g. Copeland, Wolke, Angold, & Costello, 2013; Copeland et al., 2014; Fekkes, Pijpers, Fredriks, Vogels, & Verloove-Vanhorick, 2006; Gini & Pozzoli, 2009; Hawker & Boulton, 2000). This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare bullying to be a " major public health problem " (p.403) that necessitates immediate and widespread policy regarding prevention and intervention (Srabstein & Leventhal, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, bullying has come into focus as a critically important social issue that demands empirical understanding to inform best practice regarding both intervention and prevention. In Western cultures, low physical aggression in boys, but high physical aggression in girls, predicts elevated victimization due to bullying, and we predicted that the same would be true cross-culturally. The present study sought to understand the role that physical aggression plays in victimization in Samoa, provide a prevalence estimate of the rate of bullying in the island nation, as well as validate the Forms of Bullying Scale (FBS; Shaw, Dooley, Cross, Zubrick, & Waters, 2013) in a cross-cultural context. In a sample of adult Samoan men and women (n = 214), men reported elevated rates of verbal, physical, and overall rates of victimization due to bullying in childhood compared to women, but no sex differences emerged in levels of physical aggression. Additionally, the FBS showed appreciable reliability, as well as a latent factor structure consistent with the findings of the scale's authors. Prevalence of victimization due to bullying in Samoa is comparable to that reported by other authors conducting cross-cultural research on this topic.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Personality and Individual Differences
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