Poor performance in physical education – a risk factor for bully victimization. A case-control study


Susanne Bejerot, Ph.D., M.D., KogNUS, VUB-team, Northern Stockholm Psychiatry, St Göran Hospital, SE-112 81 Stockholm, Sweden.
Tel: +46 (0)8 672 24 19 |
Fax: +46 (0)8 656 70 00 |
Email: susanne.bejerot@ki.se


Aim:  Poor social skills are a risk factor for becoming bullied, which could explain why this frequently occurs to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Poor social skills tend to coexist with clumsiness. According to a pilot study, poor performance in physical education (PE) was correlated with bully victimization.

Methods:  Sixty-nine healthy university students reported performance in PE and bully victimization in childhood. In addition, the participants responded to questionnaires for ADHD and ASDs to assess personality traits related to increased risk for bully victimization.

Results:  Below average performance in PE was a risk factor of being bullied in school with an odds ratio of 3.6 [95% confidence interval: 1.23–10.5; p = 0.017]. Strong correlations between poor performance in PE and long duration of victimization (p = 0.007) and poor performance in PE and high frequency of victimization (p = 0.008) were found. Autistic traits were related to performance below average in PE.

Conclusion:  Poor motor skills are a strong risk factor for becoming bullied. Prevention programmes that identify, protect and empower the clumsy children could be an important step to avoid bullying of the most vulnerable children.