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Coping strategy, Well-being, and bullying perpetration in primary schools: a longitudinal mediation model

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Ample evidence shows that school bullying remains a major social problem worldwide which brings negative physical and psychological outcomes for both bullies and victims. Although poor well-being has been considered a risk factor that reinforces aggressive and bullying behaviors among youth, limited research has focused on investigating how well-being influences bullying perpetration and how coping strategies mediate the relationship between the two remains unknown. Guided by the general strain theory and empirical findings, this study collected data from 920 primary school students (57.6% male; Mage = 10.88; SD = 1.25) through a two-wave longitudinal survey and identified significant relationships between well-being and bullying perpetration. The results showed that mental distress (β = 0.174; p < .001) and self-esteem (β = 0.136; p < .010) were positively associated with bullying perpetration, with the relationships partially mediated by the approach coping strategy, while the significant relationships between social support (β = -0.047; p < .001) and attitudes toward delinquency (β = -0.082; p < .001) and bullying perpetration were completely mediated by the approach coping strategy. Avoidance coping strategy showed no significant mediating effect in the association between well-being and bullying perpetration. Results have important implications for theory, practice, and future intervention.

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This study was commissioned by the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (“BGCA”). The authors would like to thank the professional staff of BGCA for their inputs and efforts to the program and the participants of the study.

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T.L. conceived of the manuscript, participated in the interpretation of the data, performed statistical analyses, drafted and revised the manuscript; Y.W.L. is the Principal Investigator of the study. She conceptualized and conceived of the study designs and data analysis strategies, coordinated the data collection, conceived of, drafted, and revised the manuscript; C.C.L. participated in the study design, coordinated the data collection, participated in the interpretation of the data and revision of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

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Correspondence to Yik Wa Law.

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Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethical approval

All of the study’s procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Helsinki Declaration. Ethical approval for the survey was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Hong Kong. HREC reference number is EA1511001.

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Luo, T., Law, Y.W. & Lai, Cs. Coping strategy, Well-being, and bullying perpetration in primary schools: a longitudinal mediation model. Curr Psychol 42, 23332–23348 (2023).

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