European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 463–472 | Cite as

Victimization and bullying among 8-year-old Finnish children

A 10-year comparison of rates
  • Päivi Santalahti
  • Andre Sourander
  • Minna Aromaa
  • Hans Helenius
  • Kaija Ikäheimo
  • Jorma Piha



There are only few population-based time-trend studies on changes in prevalence of bullying and victimization among children. The main aim of this study was to find out whether changes have occurred in prevalence rates of bullying and victimization from 1989 to 1999 among eight-year-old children. The associations between victimization and bullying and psychiatric symptoms and their possible differences in the statistical strengths of associations between the years 1989 and 1999 were also studied.


Two cross-sectional, representative samples from southern Finland were compared. All children born in 1981 (1989 sample, n = 985, response rate 95%) and 1991 (1999 sample, n = 962, response rate 86%) and living in the selected school district were included in the study samples. Children, parents and teachers were asked about bullying and victimization. The Children’s Depression Inventory and Rutter’s parent and teacher scales were used to study psychiatric symptoms.


In 1999, fewer 8-year-old children were victims of bullying than in 1989. There was a decrease in the number of bullies but the change was statistically significant only in the parental reports. The statistical strengths of associations of victimization and bullying with psychiatric symptoms were mainly the same in 1989 as in 1999.


Slightly decreased levels of victimization among 8-year-old Finnish children is a promising result, but further time-trend studies are needed, as well as qualitative studies, to obtain a deeper understanding of the bullying phenomenon and the factors reducing it. It might be that especially young children are suspectible to influences diminishing victimisation and bullying.


childhood stressors childhood trauma harassment adverse life events 



children’s depression inventory



This study was supported by the Finnish Pediatric Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Päivi Santalahti
    • 1
  • Andre Sourander
    • 1
    • 2
  • Minna Aromaa
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hans Helenius
    • 5
  • Kaija Ikäheimo
    • 1
  • Jorma Piha
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Child PsychiatryTurku University HospitalTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Institute of Clinical MedicineUniversity of TromsöTromsöNorway
  3. 3.Dept. Of Public HealthTurku UniversityTurkuFinland
  4. 4.Child and Adolescent Health Care UnitTurku City HospitalTurkuFinland
  5. 5.Dept. of BiostatisticsTurku UniversityTurkuFinland

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