Bullying Victimisation, Internalising Symptoms, and Conduct Problems in South African Children and Adolescents: A Longitudinal Investigation
- 1.6k Downloads
Bullying victimisation has been prospectively linked with mental health problems among children and adolescents in longitudinal studies in the developed world. However, research from the developing world, where adolescents face multiple risks to social and emotional development, has been limited by cross-sectional designs. This is the first longitudinal study of the psychological impacts of bullying victimisation in South Africa. The primary aim was to examine prospective relationships between bullying victimisation and internalising and externalising symptoms in South African youth. Secondary aims were to examine gender and age-related differences in experiences of bullying victimisation. Children and adolescents (10–17 years, 57 % female, n = 3,515) from high HIV-prevalent (>30 %) communities in South Africa were interviewed and followed-up 1 year later (97 % retention). Census enumeration areas were randomly selected from urban and rural sites in two provinces and door-to-door sampling included all households with a resident child/adolescent. Exposure to multiple experiences of bullying victimisation at baseline predicted internalising symptoms and conduct problems 1 year later. Additionally, baseline mental health scores predicted later bullying victimisation, demonstrating bi-directionality of relationships between bullying victimisation and mental health outcomes in this sample. Expected gender differences in physical, verbal, and relational bullying victimisation were evident and predicted declines in bullying victimisation over time were observed. In the developed world, school-based anti-bullying programmes have been shown to be effective in reducing bullying and victimisation. Anti-bullying programmes should be implemented and rigorously evaluated in South Africa, as this may promote improved mental health among South African children and adolescents.
KeywordsBullying Victimisation Anxiety Depression Adolescent Gender South Africa
This study was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the South African National Research Foundation, the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the South African National Department of Social Development, the Claude Leon Foundation, the John Fell Fund, and the Nuffield Foundation. The authors wish to thank the South African fieldwork teams and all the participants and their families.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Amaya-Jackson, L., McCarthy, G., Cherney, M. S., & Newman, E. (1995). Child PTSD Checklist ©. Durham: Duke University Medical Center.Google Scholar
- Arseneault, L., Milne, B. J., Taylor, A., Adams, F., Delgado, K., Caspi, A., et al. (2008). Being bullied as an environmentally mediated contributing factor to children’s internalizing problems: A study of twins discordant for victimization. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162, 145–150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Barnes, H., & Wright, G. (2012). Defining child poverty in South Africa using the socially percieved necessities approach. In A. Minujin (Ed.), Global child poverty and well-being: measurement, concepts, policy and action. Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
- Blunch, N. J. (2008). Introduction to structural equation modelling using SPSS and AMOS. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Boyes, M. E., Cluver, L., & Gardner, F. (2012). Psychometric properties of the Child PTSD Checklist in a community sample of South African children and adolescents. PLOS ONE, 7, e46905. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046905.
- Bronfrenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Burton, P. (2008). National primary school violence survey 2007. Cape Town: Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention.Google Scholar
- Cortina, M. A., Fazel, M., Hlungwani, T. M., Kahn, K., Tollman, S., Cortina-Borja, M., & Stein, A. (2013). Childhood psychological problems in school settings in rural Southern Africa. PLOS ONE, 8, e65041, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065041.
- Field, A. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Giaconia, R. M., Reinherz, H. Z., Silverman, A., Pakis, B., Frost, A., & Cohen, E. (1993). Ages of onset of psychiatric disorders in a community population of older adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 33, 707–716.Google Scholar
- Kessler, R. C., Mcgonagle, K. A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C. B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., et al. (1994). Lifetime and 12-Month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States: Results from the national comorbidity survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kovacs, M. (1992). Children’s Depression Inventory. Niagra Falls: Multi-health Systems.Google Scholar
- Mulis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Kennedy, A. M., & Foy, P. (2007). PIRLS 2006: IEAs progress in international reading literacy study in primary schools in 40 countries. MA: Chestnut Hill.Google Scholar
- Nansel, T. R., Craig, W., Overpeck, M. O., Saluja, G., Ruan, W. J., & Health Behavior in School-aged Children Analyses Working Group. (2004). Cross-national consistency in the relationship between bullying behaviors and psychosocial adjustment. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 158, 730–736.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Pillay, U., Roberts, B., & Rule, S. (2006). South African social attitudes: changing times, diverse voices. Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
- Reddy, S. P., Panday, S., Swart, D., Jinabhai, C. C., Amosun, S. L., James, S., et al. (2003). Umthenthe Uhlaba Usamila – The South African Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2002. Cape Town: South African Medical Research Council.Google Scholar
- Rigby, K. (2002). New perspectives on bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
- Rothon, C., Head, J., Klineberg, E., & Stansfeld, S. (2011). Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools in East London. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 579–588.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Ruchkin, V., Schwab-Stone, M., & Vermeiren, R. (2004). Social and Health Assessment (SAHA) psychometric development summary. New Haven: Yale University.Google Scholar
- Salmivalli, C., & Peets, K. (2009). Bullies, victims, and bully-victim relationships in middle childhood and early adolescence. In K. Rubin, M. Bukowski, & B. Laurens (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 322–340). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- Yen, C.-F., Huang, M.-F., Kim, Y., Wang, P.-W., Tang, T.-C., Yeh, Y.-C., et al. (2013). Association between types of involvement in school bullying and different dimensions of anxiety symptoms and the moderating effects of age and gender in Taiwanese adolescents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 37, 263–272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar