Bullying in early adolescence and its association with anti-social behaviour, criminality and violence 6 and 10 years later

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Abstract

Background Few longitudinal studies have examined the links between engagement in bullying and later anti-social behaviour for both males and females.

Aims This study aimed to examine the association between adolescent bullying behaviour and subsequent anti-social behaviour, among a community sample of Australian males and females.

Methods Regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between bullying perpetration at age 13–14 and anti-social behaviour, criminal violence and contact with police or courts 6 and 10 years later among approximately 800 young adults participating in a 27-year longitudinal study. The analyses controlled for known risk factors for anti-social behaviour at age 13–14 years.

Results Moderate significant associations were found between bullying perpetration and subsequent anti-social behaviour. Associations were more powerful for males than females, and for short-term than long-term outcomes. Engagement in bullying remained a significant predictor of later anti-social behaviour and contact with police or courts even after other risk factors were accounted for.

Conclusions These findings suggest that bullying in adolescence may be a marker of risk for a continuing pattern of anti-social behaviour, particularly among young males. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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