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Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Dec;23(12):1253-62.

Children involved in bullying: psychological disturbance and the persistence of the involvement.

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Department of Child Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.



This follow-up investigation studied the extent of bullying among children aged 8 (Study 1) and 12 (Study 2), and measured the persistence of this behaviour. The relationship between bullying and psychological disturbance at these two time points was also studied. Furthermore, the relationships between bullying and some background factors were investigated.


1268 children were studied at two time points using three different questionnaires. Parents filled out the Rutter A2 Scale, teachers the Rutter B2 Scale and children themselves the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI).


Males outnumbered females at both time points among bullies, bully-victims (children who both bully and are victims) and victims. There was a clear difference between the genders among bullies and bully-victims, but the difference was quite minimal among victims. The number of children involved in bullying declined somewhat during the 4-year follow-up period, and a substantial number of children changed status, bullies became bully-victims for example. Nearly half the children involved in bullying in Study 2 had been involved 4 years earlier. Those children who were bully-victims in Study 1 were most commonly found to be still involved in bullying 4 years later. At both time points, children involved in bullying were found to have significantly more psychiatric symptoms than other children, and to be psychologically disturbed. Males and children from low SES families were more prone to continue to be involved in bullying over a 4-year period.


Bullying is common among children, and in many cases lasts for years. Bully-victims are particularly at risk of remaining involved in bullying over longer periods. Also, children involved in bullying often have psychiatric problems and are disturbed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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