Get access

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


  • Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Australian Government.


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.