Poor motor skills: A risk marker for bully victimization


  • Conflicts of interest: None
  • Abbreviations: ADHD: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; SES: socioeconomic status.
  • Author Contributions: See Acknowledgments for details.

Correspondence to: Susanne Bejerot, Northern Stockholm Psychiatry, S:t Göran Hospital, SE-112 81 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: susanne.bejerot@ki.se


Children who are clumsy are often bullied. Nevertheless, motor skills have been overlooked in research on bullying victimization. A total of 2,730 Swedish adults (83% females) responded to retrospective questions on bullying, their talents in physical education (i.e., coordination and balls skills) and school academics. Poor talents were used as indicators of poor gross motor skills and poor academic skills. A subset of participants also provided information on educational level in adulthood, childhood obesity, belonging to an ethic minority in school and socioeconomic status relative to schoolmates. A total of 29.4% of adults reported being bullied in school, and 18.4% reported having below average gross motor skills. Of those with below average motor skills, 48.6% were bullied in school. Below average motor skills in childhood were associated with an increased risk (OR 3.01 [95% CI: 1.97–4.60]) of being bullied, even after adjusting for the influence of lower socioeconomic status, poor academic performance, being overweight, and being a bully. Higher odds for bully victimization were also associated with lower socioeconomic status (OR 2.29 [95% CI: 1.45–3.63]), being overweight (OR 1.71 [95% CI: 1.18–2.47]) and being a bully (OR 2.18 [95% CI: 1.53–3.11]). The findings indicate that poor gross motor skills constitute a robust risk-marker for vulnerability for bully victimization. Aggr. Behav. 39:453–461, 2013. © 2013 The Authors. Aggressive Behavior Published by Wiley-Blackwell