Recollections of childhood bullying and multiple forms of victimization: correlates with psychological functioning among college students

Abstract

This retrospective investigation examined the association among childhood bullying victimization, multiple forms of victimization, and psychological functioning in a college sample. Four hundred-and-eighty-two undergraduate students participated in the study (M = 19.98 years, SD = 1.82). The sample included 65 % women. For race/ethnicity, 66.4 % were European-American (N = 320), 16.8 % African-American (N = 81). For grade level, 21.6 % were freshmen (N = 104), followed by 38.2 % sophomores (N = 184), 16.2 % juniors (N = 78), and 23.4 % seniors (N = 113). Participants completed a survey packet of measures assessing childhood bullying victimization experiences and current levels of psychological functioning. Findings indicated that bullying victimization significantly predicted greater levels of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress (PTS) after controlling for other childhood victimization experiences. PTS symptoms were predicted by exposure to community violence and child abuse with bullying victimization was found to be the strongest predictor. College-level practitioners need to assess for a wide range of childhood victimization experiences, including bullying victimization.

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Correspondence to Dorothy L. Espelage.

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Espelage, D.L., Hong, J.S. & Mebane, S. Recollections of childhood bullying and multiple forms of victimization: correlates with psychological functioning among college students. Soc Psychol Educ 19, 715–728 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-016-9352-z

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Keywords

  • Bullying
  • College students
  • Polyvictimization
  • PTSD
  • University