Background: Victims of school bullying are known to be at risk in peer relationships and to sometimes use ineffective coping strategies, but little previous research has examined differences among escaped victims, continuing victims and new victims.
Aim: A follow-up design compared friendships, behavioural characteristics, victimisation experiences and coping strategies of pupils who had 2 years previously answered a questionnaire identifying themselves as victims (V) or non-victims (NV) of school bullying and whose current victim status could be identified.
Sample: 406 pupils aged 13–16 years (190 boys, 216 girls): 175 non-victims (NV-NV), 146 escaped victims (V-NV), 27 new victims (NV-V) and 58 continuing victims (V-V).
Method: Structured interviews were given to pupils, together with the SDQ. Teachers also filled in the SDQ. School records of attendance were obtained.
Results: Escaped victims did not differ greatly from non-victims, but had some self-perception of continuing peer relationship difficulties. Continuing victims, irrespective of gender, liked other pupils and breaktime less (but did not dislike other aspects of school), had fewer friends in school (but not outside school), more often missed school (sometimes because of bullying), scored high on problem scales of the SDQ, and were more likely to be involved in bullying others as well as being bullied. New victims tended to resemble continuing victims. Continuing victims did not differ from escaped victims on type of bullying, but new and continuing victims less often reported talking to someone about a specific incident of bullying. Most victims gave mainly victim-related reasons for the bullying having taken place.
Conclusion: The results are discussed in relation to why some pupils become or continue to be victims in secondary school, and recommendations for anti-bullying procedures in schools designed to help such victims.