School Bullying Stresses Perpetrators and Victims

Study finds harassment takes its toll on all involved

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FRIDAY, Nov. 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- As most any harassed child will tell you, being the subject of bullying at school is a cause of psychological distress. But a new study finds that bullies are likely to be stressed out, too.

Psychologically distressed children are more likely than other children to be involved in bullying as either victims or as bullies, say researchers at the University of Washington in Seatlle. They report their findings in the November issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers surveyed 3,530 grade three, four, and five students and classified them as victims, bullies, bully-victims (those who were both victimized and bullied other children) and bystanders (children who didn't bully others and were not bullied).

The study found that 22 percent of the children were involved in bullying -- either as victims, bullies, or both. Six percent of the children reported always being bullied, 14 percent said they bullied other children, and 2 percent said they both bullied and were bullied.

All three of these groups of children were much more likely than children classified as bystanders to say they felt unsafe at school. Students who said they felt they didn't belong at school were 4.1 times more likely to be bullied and 3.1 times more likely to be bullies than those who said they did feel they belonged at school.

Bullies and victims were most often male, and both bullies and victims were more likely than bystanders to feel sad most days.

"The prevalence of frequent bullying among elementary school children is substantial. Associations between bullying involvement and school problems indicate this is a serious issue for elementary schools," the study authors wrote.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about bullying.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 7, 2005

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