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Associations between bullying behaviour, psychosomatic complaints, emotional and behavioural problems


Dr Gianluca Gini, Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università di Padova, via Venezia, 8, 35131, Padova, Italy. Fax: +39 049 8276511; email:


Objective:  Bullying or being bullied have been demonstrated to be related to a broad spectrum of behavioural, emotional and social problems. The present study aimed at analysing psychosomatic, emotional and behavioural problems among Italian bullies, victims and bully victims.

Study design:  In a cross-sectional study, 565 primary-school children completed self-reported measures for bullying, victimisation and psychosomatic complaints. Teachers rated each child on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

Results:  Within our sample, 11.2% of children were classified as bullies, 7.1% were classified as victims and 10.4% were classified as bully victims. Compared with the students who were not involved in bullying, victims had a higher risk for conduct problems (2.43 (1.18–5.03)), hyperactivity (2.41 (1.05–5.53)) and problems with peers (4.40 (2.08–9.33)). Bully victims had a higher risk for conduct problems (2.41 (1.28–4.54) and hyperactivity (2.58 (1.25–5.32)). Finally, bullies had higher risk for hyperactivity (2.06 (1.01–4.21)). All groups of children also had a higher risk for several psychosomatic symptoms than uninvolved children.

Conclusions:  Children involved in bullying as victims and bully victims had significantly higher risk for psychosomatic problems and psychosocial maladjustment than uninvolved children, whereas bullies manifested the fewest number of adjustment problems. When addressing bullying in a school community, particular care should be devoted to the identification and help of children who are involved as victims or bully victims.

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