Get access

Bullies and victims at school: Are they the same pupils?

Authors

  • Mona E. Solberg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Norway
      Correspondence should be addressed to Mona E. Solberg, Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, N-5015 Bergen, Norway (e-mail: mona.solberg@psyhp.uib.no).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dan Olweus,

    1. Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Inger M. Endresen

    1. Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence should be addressed to Mona E. Solberg, Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, N-5015 Bergen, Norway (e-mail: mona.solberg@psyhp.uib.no).

Abstract

Background. The reported prevalence of bully-victims and aggressive/provocative victims varies quite considerably in previous research, and only a few studies have reported prevalence rates across grades. There is also a lack of detailed analyses of the extent to which victims are also bullies, and bullies are also victims.

Aims. To study the prevalence of male and female bully-victims across grade/age and to establish the degree of overlap or relative size of the bully-victim group by relating them to all victims, all bullies and all involved students.

Samples. Participants in Study 1 were 5,171 pupils in grades 5–9 from 37 schools. Study 2 comprised 12,983 pupils in grades 4–10 from 66 schools.

Methods. The Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire was administered to the pupils in their ordinary classrooms.

Results. The prevalence of bully-victims was low and mainly declined across grades. There were far more boys than girls in the bully-victim group. Bully-victims resembled victims only (pure victims) in terms of age-trends and bullies only (pure bullies) in terms of sex composition. The overlap of bully-victims with the total victim group was fairly small (10–20%) in all grades. In primary grades, bully-victims constituted about 30–50% of the total bully group, whereas in higher grades these proportions were considerably lower.

Conclusion. Our analyses and overview of previous research suggest that the bully-victim group is small, and that the large variations across studies are mainly due to differences in choice of cutoff point. Bully-victims should generally be seen and treated statistically as a distinct subgroup. The relatively larger proportion of bully-victims in lower grades should be explored further.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary