Background. There is still relatively little research on the social context within which bullying develops and remains stable.
Aim. This study examined the short-term stability of bullying victimization among primary school students in the United Kingdom and Germany (mean age, 8.9 years) and the individual and social network factors that contributed to remaining a victim of bullying.
Sample. The sample consisted of 454 children (247 males and 207 females).
Methods. Participants completed questionnaires on bullying victimization at three assessment points over a 9-week period. Other measures consisted of self-reported demographic, peer, and family relationship characteristics. Social network indices of density, reciprocity, and hierarchy were constructed using friendship and peer acceptance nominations.
Results. Relative risk analyses indicated a six-fold increased risk of remaining a victim at consequent follow-ups, compared to a child not victimized at baseline becoming a victim over the follow-up period. Individual characteristics explained substantially more variance in the stability of bullying victimization than class-level factors. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses revealed that being victimized by siblings and being rejected by peers predicted remaining a victim over a 9-week period.
Conclusions. Bullying victimization among primary school students proved moderately stable over a 9-week period. Individual characteristics were more influential in predicting the stable victim role than class-level factors. Our findings have implications for the identification of stable victims in primary school and early preventative bullying programs.