Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 650–660 | Cite as

Continued Bullying Victimization in Adolescents: Maladaptive Schemas as a Mediational Mechanism

  • Esther Calvete
  • Liria Fernández-González
  • Joaquín M. González-Cabrera
  • Manuel Gámez-Guadix
Empirical Research


Bullying victimization in adolescence is a significant social problem that can become persistent over time for some victims. However, there is an overall paucity of research examining the factors that contribute to continued bullying victimization. Schema therapy proposes a model that can help us understand why bullying victimization can be persistent for some victims. This study examines the role of maladaptive schemas, the key concept in schema therapy, as a mechanism of continued bullying victimization. The hypothesis was that maladaptive schemas of rejection mediate the predictive association between victimization in both the family and at school and future bullying victimization. Social anxiety was also considered, as previous research suggests that it can increase the risk of victimization. The participants were 1328 adolescents (45% female) with a mean age of 15.05 years (SD = 1.37), who completed questionnaires at three time points with a 6-month interval between them. Time 2 maladaptive schemas of rejection significantly mediated the predictive association from Time 1 bullying victimization, family abuse and social anxiety to Time 3 bullying victimization. The findings pertaining to potentially malleable factors, such as maladaptive schemas that maintain continued interpersonal victimization, have important implications for prevention and treatment strategies with adolescents.


Bullying victimization Maladaptive schemas Social anxiety Family emotional abuse 



This research was supported by a grant from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Spanish Government, Ref. PSI2015-68426-R) and from the Basque Country (Ref. IT982-16 and Ref. PI_2016_1_0023).

Author Contributions

E.C. conceived of the study, participated in its design, performed the analyses and prepared the initial draft of introduction and discussion; L.F-G. completed part of the introduction and discussion; J.G-C. participated in the review of the literature, prepared the tables of general statistics, and revised references; M.G-G. completed part of the introduction, prepared the figure. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

Participation was voluntary and participants were informed that their responses were confidential and would only be read by the research team. The procedure always followed the standards of the Declaration of Helsinki. The Ethics Committee of University of Deusto approved this study (no reference number provided).

Informed Consent

The school staff chose to collect passive consent from parents because there were no student names included on the surveys. Parents were informed and given the option of refusing to allow their child’s participation. No parent refused to allow their child’s participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DeustoBilbaoSpain
  2. 2.International University of la RiojaLogroñoSpain
  3. 3.Autonomous University of MadridMadridSpain

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