BACKGROUND: School-based bullying, a global challenge, negatively impacts the health and development of both victims and perpetrators. This study examined the relationship between bullying victimization and selected psychological variables among senior high school (SHS) students in Ghana, West Africa.
METHODS: This study utilized data from the 2008 Ghana Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS). Prevalence rates of being bullied (95% confidence intervals [CI]) were calculated by each demographic group, as well as each psychological variable. Multiple logistic regression was used to model the relationship of being bullied (physical/nonphysical) on the linear combination of demographic variables.
RESULTS: A total of 7137 students participated in the 2008 GSHS with 40.1% reporting being bullied. Senior high school-level 1 (lowest grade) students were 3 (95% CI: 2.45-3.68) times more likely to be bullied compared with SHS level 3 (highest grade) students. Victims of bullying were significantly more likely to report negative psychological health compared with those who reported not being bullied. Odds ratios were as follows: signs of depression, 1.97 (95% CI: 1.75-2.21); suicide ideation, 1.72 (95% CI: 1.45-2.05); being so worried that it affects sleep, 2.10 (95% CI: 1.77-2.49); and loneliness, 1.82 (95% CI: 1.49-2.22). There was no significant difference in self-reports of negative psychological health when comparing students who experienced physical forms with those who were bullied in nonphysical ways.
CONCLUSION: Bullying victimization is a major problem among SHS students. We recommend strengthening of existing proactive anti-bullying programs by taking into account the association between bullying and the psychological health of students.