Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 901-911

First online:

Bullying and PTSD Symptoms

  • Thormod IdsoeAffiliated withCentre for Behavioural Research, University of StavangerCenter for Crisis Psychology Email author 
  • , Atle DyregrovAffiliated withCenter for Crisis Psychology
  • , Ella Cosmovici IdsoeAffiliated withCentre for Behavioural Research, University of Stavanger

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PTSD symptoms related to school bullying have rarely been investigated, and never in national samples. We used data from a national survey to investigate this among students from grades 8 and 9 (n = 963). The prevalence estimates of exposure to bullying were within the range of earlier research findings. Multinomial logistic regression showed that boys were 2.27 times more likely to be exposed to frequent bullying than girls. A latent variable second-order model demonstrated an association between frequency of bullying exposure and PTSD symptoms (beta = 0.49). This relationship was not moderated by gender. However, the average levels of PTSD symptoms as well as clinical range symptoms were higher for girls. For all bullied students, 27.6% of the boys and 40.5% of the girls had scores within the clinical range. A mimic model showed that youth who identify as being both a bully and a victim of bullying were more troubled than those who were victims only. Our findings support the idea that exposure to bullying is a potential risk factor for PTSD symptoms among students. Future research could investigate whether the same holds for PTSD through diagnostic procedures, but this will depend on whether or not bullying is decided to comply with the DSM-IV classification of trauma required for diagnosis. Results are discussed with regard to their implications for school interventions.


Bullying Victimization PTSD symptoms School