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Bullying Across Late Childhood and Early Adolescence: A Prospective Cohort of Students Assessed Annually From Grades 3 to 8

  • Shinya Fujikawa
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Shinya Fujikawa, MD, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan
    Affiliations
    Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo (S Fujikawa), Tokyo, Japan
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  • Lisa K. Mundy
    Affiliations
    Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne (LK Mundy and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Louise Canterford
    Affiliations
    Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Margarita Moreno-Betancur
    Affiliations
    Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • George C. Patton
    Affiliations
    Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute (S Fujikawa, LK Mundy, L Canterford, M Moreno-Betancur, and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne (LK Mundy and GC Patton), Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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Published:October 20, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2020.10.011

      Abstract

      Objective

      Bullying is a well-established risk factor for common adolescent mental disorders. Yet there has been little published on how patterns of bullying change across late childhood and early adolescence. We estimated the prevalence and patterns of being a victim of bullying across this period including changes with the transition from primary to secondary school.

      Methods

      A stratified random sample of 1239 Grade 3 students was recruited from 43 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. Bullying frequency and form were assessed annually between Grades 3 and 8, and categorized into 5 groups: physical, verbal, spreading rumors, social exclusion, and cyber, together with multiform bullying.

      Results

      Rates of bullying were high across these Grades with 86% of students reporting bullying at least once in the past 4 weeks at any wave, 66% reporting frequent bullying and 37% reporting frequent multiform bullying. The commonest form of bullying was teasing, with cyberbullying the least common. For boys, there were marked falls in bullying with increasing age whereas for girls, bullying persisted at high levels into secondary school, with relational bullying the dominant pattern and cyberbullying increasing sharply in the early teens. Generally, the transition to secondary education brought lower risks for all forms of bullying.

      Conclusions

      We found high rates of bullying across late childhood and early adolescence in both sexes, but more persistent bullying in girls. Declines across primary school and with the transition to secondary school suggest the potential for intervention across these grades to further reduce the prevalence of bullying.

      Keywords

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