European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 49–55 | Cite as

Childhood bullying as a predictor for becoming a teenage mother in Finland

  • Venla LehtiEmail author
  • Andre Sourander
  • Anat Klomek
  • Solja Niemelä
  • Lauri Sillanmäki
  • Jorma Piha
  • Kirsti Kumpulainen
  • Tuula Tamminen
  • Irma Moilanen
  • Fredrik Almqvist
Original Contribution


The aim of this study is to examine the association between bullying behaviour at the age of 8 and becoming a mother under the age of 20. This birth cohort study included 2,867 Finnish girls at baseline in 1989. Register-based follow-up data on births was collected until the end of 2001. Information, both on the main exposure and outcome, was available for 2,507 girls. Both bullies and victims had an increased risk of becoming a teenage mother independent of family-related risk factors. When controlled for childhood psychopathology, however, the association remained significant for bullies (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2–4.1) and bully-victims (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.05–3.2), but not for pure victims. Reports of bullying and victimisation from the girls themselves, their parents and their teachers were all associated with becoming a teenage mother independent of each other. There is a predictive association between being a bully in childhood and becoming a mother in adolescence. It may be useful to target bullies for teenage pregnancy prevention.


Teen pregnancy Bully Victim Risk factor Epidemiology 



Dr. Lehti received a grant from the Finnish Foundation for Pediatric Research (Lastentautien tutkimussäätiö).

Conflict of interest

Dr. Niemelä has consulted Pfizer and been invited as a lecturer by AstraZeneca. These companies have no role in the production of this manuscript. The other authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.


  1. 1.
    Moffitt TE (2002) E-Risk Study Team Teen-aged mothers in contemporary Britain. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 43:727–742CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Maughan B, Lindelow M (1997) Secular change in psychosocial risks: the case of teenage motherhood. Psychol Med 27:1129–1144CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Schmidt RM, Wiemann CM, Rickert VI, Smith EO (2006) Moderate to severe depressive symptoms among adolescent mothers followed 4 years postpartum. J Adolesc Health 38:712–718CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henretta JC, Grundy EM, Okell LC, Wadsworth ME (2008) Early motherhood and mental health in midlife: a study of British and American cohorts. Aging Ment Health 12:605–614CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    De Genna NM, Cornelius MD, Donovan JE (2009) Risk factors for young adult substance use among women who were teenage mothers. Addict Behav 34:463–470CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Shaw M, Lawlor DA, Najman JM (2006) Teenage children of teenage mothers: psychological, behavioural and health outcomes from an Australian prospective longitudinal study. Soc Sci Med 62:2526–2539CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fergusson DM, Woodward LJ (1999) Maternal age and educational and psychosocial outcomes in early adulthood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 40:479–489CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ekeus C, Olausson PO, Hjern A (2006) Psychiatric morbidity is related to parental age: a national cohort study. Psychol Med 36:269–276CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Woodward LJ, Fergusson DM, Horwood J (2001) Risk factors and life processes associated with teenage pregnancy. Results of a prospective study from birth to 20 years. J Marriage Fam 63:1170–1184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Meade CS, Kershaw TS, Ickovics JR (2008) The intergenerational cycle of teenage motherhood: an ecological approach. Health Psychol 27:419–429CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Imamura M, Tucker J, Hannaford P, Da Silva MO, Astin M, Wyness L, Bloemenkamp KW, Jahn A, Karro H, Olsen J, Temmerman M (2007) REPROSTAT 2 group Factors associated with teenage pregnancy in the European Union countries: a systematic review. Eur J Public Health 17:630–636CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Miller BC, Benson B, Galbraith KA (2001) Family relationships and adolescent pregnancy risk: a research synthesis. Dev Rev 21:1–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fergusson DM, Woodward LJ (2000) Educational, psychosocial, and sexual outcomes of girls with conduct problems in early adolescence. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 41:779–792CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Colman I, Murray J, Abbott RA, Maughan B, Kuh D, Croudace TJ, Jones PB (2009) Outcomes of conduct problems in adolescence: 40 year follow-up of national cohort. BMJ 338:a2981CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Woodward LJ, Fergusson DM (1999) Early conduct problems and later risk of teenage pregnancy in girls. Dev Psychopathol 11:127–141CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Woodward LJ, Horwood LJ, Fergusson DM (2001) Teenage pregnancy: cause for concern. N Z Med J 114:301–303PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Miller-Johnson S, Winn DM, Coie J, Maumary-Gremaud A, Hyman C, Terry R, Lochman J (1999) Motherhood during the teen years: a developmental perspective on risk factors for childbearing. Dev Psychopathol 11:85–100CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bardone AM, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Dickson N, Stanton WR, Silva PA (1998) Adult physical health outcomes of adolescent girls with conduct disorder, depression, and anxiety. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 37:594–601CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jaffee SR (2002) Pathways to adversity in young adulthood among early childbearers. J Fam Psychol 16:38–49CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Underwood MK, Kupersmidt JB, Coie JD (1996) Childhood peer sociometric status and aggression as predictors of adolescent childbearing. J Res Adolescence 6:201–223Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Olweus D (1993) Victimization by peers: antecedents and long term outcomes. In: Rubin KH, Asendorf JB (eds) Social withdrawal, inhibition, and shyness in childhood. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, pp 315–341Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Forero R, McLellan L, Rissel C, Bauman A (1999) Bullying behaviour and psychosocial health among school students in New South Wales, Australia: cross sectional survey. BMJ 319:344–348PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Dake JA, Price JH, Telljohann SK (2003) The nature and extent of bullying at school. J Sch Health 73:173–180CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kumpulainen K, Rasanen E (2000) Children involved in bullying at elementary school age: their psychiatric symptoms and deviance in adolescence. An epidemiological sample. Child Abuse Negl 24:1567–1577CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wolke D, Woods S, Bloomfield L, Karstadt L (2001) Bullying involvement in primary school and common health problems. Arch Dis Child 85:197–201CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Nansel TR, Overpeck M, Pilla RS, Ruan WJ, Simons-Morton B, Scheidt P (2001) Bullying behaviors among US youth: prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA 285:2094–2100CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hawker DS, Boulton MJ (2000) Twenty years’ research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 41:441–455CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Arseneault L, Walsh E, Trzesniewski K, Newcombe R, Caspi A, Moffitt TE (2006) Bullying victimization uniquely contributes to adjustment problems in young children: a nationally representative cohort study. Pediatrics 118:130–138CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Egan SK, Perry DG (1998) Does low self-regard invite victimization? Dev Psychol 34:299–309CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Nansel TR, Overpeck MD, Haynie DL, Ruan WJ, Scheidt PC (2003) Relationships between bullying and violence among US youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 157:348–353CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kim YS, Leventhal BL, Koh YJ, Hubbard A, Boyce WT (2006) School bullying and youth violence: causes or consequences of psychopathologic behavior? Arch Gen Psychiatry 63:1035–1041CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sourander A, Jensen P, Ronning JA, Elonheimo H, Niemelä S, Helenius H, Kumpulainen K, Piha J, Tamminen T, Moilanen I, Almqvist F (2007) Childhood bullies and victims and their risk of criminality in late adolescence: the Finnish From a Boy to a Man study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 161:546–552CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Almqvist F, Ikäheimo K, Kumpulainen K, Tuompo-Johansson E, Puura K, Moilanen I, Räsänen E, Tamminen T, Piha J (1999) Design and subjects of a Finnish epidemiological study on psychiatric disorders in childhood. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 8(Suppl 4):3–6CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rutter MA (1967) children’s behaviour questionnaire for completion by teachers: preliminary findings. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 8:1–11CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Rutter M, Tizard J, Whitmore K (ed) (1970) Education, health and behaviour, London, LongmanGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Gissler M, Haukka J (2004) Finnish health and social welfare registers in epidemiological research. Norsk epidemiologi 14:113–120Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Vuori E, Gissler M (2008) Newborn children 2006. Statistical summary 10/2008. National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and HealthGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Vuori E, Gissler M (2008) Parturients, births and newborns 2007. Statistical summary 30/2008. National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and HealthGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Aro S, Koskinen R, Keskimaki I (1990) Reliability of hospital discharge data concerning diagnosis, treatments and accidents. Duodecim 106:1443–1450PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kumpulainen K, Räsänen E, Henttonen I, Almqvist F, Kresanov K, Linna SL, Moilanen I, Piha J, Puura K, Tamminen T (1998) Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse Negl 22:705–717CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Prinstein MJ, Boergers J, Vernberg EM (2001) Overt and relational aggression in adolescents: social-psychological adjustment of aggressors and victims. J Clin Child Psychol 30:479–491CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Crick NR, Grotpeter JK (1995) Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Dev 66:710–722CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Crick NR, Bigbee MA (1998) Relational and overt forms of peer victimization: a multi-informant approach. J Consult Clin Psychol 66:337–347CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Salmivalli C, Kaukiainen A, Lagerspetz K (2000) Aggression and sociometric status among peers: do gender and type of aggression matter? Scand J Psychol 41:17–24CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Connolly J, Pepler D, Craig W, Taradash A (2000) Dating experiences of bullies in early adolescence. Child Maltreat 5:299–310CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Greenberg MT, Speltz ML, DeKlyen M, Jones K (2001) Correlates of clinic referral for early conduct problems: variable- and person-oriented approaches. Dev Psychopathol 13:255–276CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Guttmann-Steinmetz S, Crowell JA (2006) Attachment and externalizing disorders: a developmental psychopathology perspective. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 45:440–451CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Shields A, Cicchetti D (2001) Parental maltreatment and emotion dysregulation as risk factors for bullying and victimization in middle childhood. J Clin Child Psychol 30:349–363CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Klomek AB, Marrocco F, Kleinman M, Schonfeld IS, Gould MS (2007) Bullying, depression, and suicidality in adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 46:40–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Becker-lausen E, Rickel AU (1995) Integration of teen pregnancy and child abuse research: identifying mediator variables for pregnancy outcome. J Prim Prev 16:39–53CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Noll JG, Shenk CE, Putnam KT (2009) Childhood sexual abuse and adolescent pregnancy: a meta-analytic update. J Pediatr Psychol 34:366–378CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ronning JA, Sourander A, Kumpulainen K, Tamminen T, Niemelä S, Moilanen I, Helenius H, Piha J, Almqvist F (2009) Cross-informant agreement about bullying and victimization among eight-year-olds: whose information best predicts psychiatric caseness 10–15 years later? Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 44:15–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Bonell C, Fletcher A, McCambridge J (2007) Improving school ethos may reduce substance misuse and teenage pregnancy. BMJ 334:614–616CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Venla Lehti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andre Sourander
    • 1
  • Anat Klomek
    • 3
    • 4
  • Solja Niemelä
    • 5
  • Lauri Sillanmäki
    • 1
  • Jorma Piha
    • 2
  • Kirsti Kumpulainen
    • 6
  • Tuula Tamminen
    • 7
  • Irma Moilanen
    • 8
  • Fredrik Almqvist
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.New School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC)HerzliyaIsrael
  4. 4.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  6. 6.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  7. 7.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  8. 8.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  9. 9.Department of Child PsychiatryUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations