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Child Abuse Negl. 2007 Feb;31(2):161-71. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Bullying, violence, and risk behavior in South African school students.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, PO Box 085, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.



To examine the prevalence of bullying behavior in adolescents from Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, and the association of these behaviors with levels of violence and risk behavior.


Five thousand and seventy-four adolescent schoolchildren in grade 8 (mean age 14.2 years) and grade 11 (mean age 17.4 years) at 72 Government schools in Cape Town and Durban, South Africa completed self-report questionnaires on participation in bullying, violent, anti-social and risk behaviors.


Over a third (36.3%) of students were involved in bullying behavior, 8.2% as bullies, 19.3% as victims and 8.7% as bully-victims (those that are both bullied and bully others). Male students were most at risk of both perpetration and victimization, with younger boys more vulnerable to victimization. Violent and anti-social behaviors were increased in bullies, victims and bully-victims compared to controls not involved in any bullying behavior (p<.01 in all cases). Risk taking behavior was elevated for bullies and bully-victims, but for victims was largely comparable to controls. Victims were less likely to smoke than controls (odds ratio .83, p<.05). Bully-victims showed largely comparable violent, anti-social and risk taking behavior profiles to bullies. Bully-victims showed comparable suicidal ideation and smoking profiles to victims.


Results were in keeping with Western findings. Involvement in bullying is a common problem for young South Africans. Bullying behavior can act as an indicator of violent, anti-social and risk-taking behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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