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Who escapes or remains a victim of bullying in primary school?

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Dieter Wolke, University of Warwick, Department of Psychology and Health Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK (e-mail: wolke@warwick.ac.uk).

Abstract

The stability of both direct and relational victimization and factors that contribute to remaining, escaping or becoming a victim of bullying were investigated. 663 children at baseline aged 6–9 (years 2–4) were interviewed about their bullying experiences and parents completed a behaviour and health measure. Children's perception of the degree of social hierarchical structuring and social prominence in their class was determined by peer nominations. 432 children participated in the follow-up either 2 or 4 years after baseline aged 10–11 (year 6) and completed a bullying questionnaire. Relational victims and children from classes with a high hierarchical structure were more likely to have dropped out of the study compared to neutral children, and children from classes with a low hierarchical structure. Relative risk analyses indicated a twofold increased risk of remaining a direct victim at follow-up, compared to a child not involved at baseline becoming a victim over the follow-up period. In contrast, relational victimization increased but was not found to be stable. Logistic regression analyses revealed that being a girl, and receiving few positive peer nominations predicted remaining a direct victim. Becoming a relational victim at follow-up was predicted by a strong class hierarchy. The implications for future study of early recognition of likely long term victims and early preventative bullying initiatives are discussed.

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