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Scand J Public Health. 2010 Jun;38(4):359-67. doi: 10.1177/1403494810364563. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Emotional, self-conceptual, and relational characteristics of bullies and the bullied.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.



To clarify distributions of emotional and somatic symptoms among different groups involved in bullying behaviour during early adolescence; to explore differences in social integration and self-perceptions; to explore how different cut-off limits for bullying behaviour may affect the impact of these measures; and to interpret our findings in the light of theories of identity that may suggest directions for interventions against bullying in schools.


A cross-sectional study, based on self-completion questionnaire, of 1237 pupils aged 11-15 years in autumn 2000 in Alesund, Norway.


Bullies and their victims reported similar and greater emotional impairments and psychosomatic complaints, lack of self-confidence, and pessimism than students not involved in bullying. With increasing involvement, bullies differed from non-involved students only in regard to depressive complaints and pessimism. The bullied group reported more depressive, somatic and anxiety complaints, and self-reproach with increasing victimisation. Both bullies and the bullied reported problems relating to school, parents, and teachers. Bullies enjoyed friendships to the same degree or better than their peers not involved in bullying, whereas the bullied group reported impaired peer relations and increasing problems with more serious involvement. Bullies, the bullied, and bully-victims reported diminishing peer support in their class with increasing involvement.


Both the bullied and bullies share relational, emotional, and self-conceptual problems, but they also differ in whether they succeed in social arenas and to what extent they are affected by different emotional and self-conceptual problems. They are, however, fellow sufferers in many aspects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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