Advertisement

The relationship between bullying behaviours in childhood and physician-diagnosed internalizing disorders

  • Julia C. H. KontakEmail author
  • Sara F. L. Kirk
  • Lynne Robinson
  • Arto Ohinmaa
  • Paul J. Veugelers
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objective

Bullying and its potential consequence for poor mental health constitutes a public health concern, yet there is a dearth of longitudinal studies examining the topic. This study examines the temporal relationship between childhood bullying behaviours (being a victim, being a bully, or being a bully and a victim) and physician-diagnosed internalizing disorders over a 7-year timespan.

Methods

Data from the 2003 Children’s Lifestyle and School performance Study (CLASS), a population-based health survey of grade 5 students in Nova Scotia, Canada were linked to administrative health-care records to examine the relationship between bullying behaviours and services where a physician diagnosis of an internalizing disorder (ID) was received. Negative binomial regression analyses were conducted to examine this relationship.

Results

Of the 4694 participants, 33.3% reported being involved in some form of bullying behaviour and 24.1% had a service where a physician diagnosis of ID was given over a 7-year timespan. Compared with children who reported not being involved in bullying behaviours, children who reported being a victim of bullying had a higher rate of subsequent physician-diagnosed ID services (IRR = 1.38, 95% CI = 1.11, 1.70). Children who reported being a bully had a lower rate of ID services (IRR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.46, 0.99), while there was no difference for those who reported between being a bully and a victim (bully-victim) with respect to ID services.

Conclusion

Bullying behaviours should be considered a serious public health issue due to their high prevalence in school environments and detrimental effects on the mental health of adolescents.

Keywords

Bullying behaviours Mental health School health Childhood Internalizing disorders 

Résumé

Objectif

Le harcèlement entre enfants et ses répercussions possibles sur la santé mentale constituent un problème de santé publique, mais les études longitudinales sur la question font cruellement défaut. Nous avons examiné la relation dans le temps entre les brimades durant l’enfance (subies, exercées sur d’autres ou les deux à la fois) et les troubles d’intériorisation diagnostiqués par un médecin sur une période de sept ans.

Méthode

Nous avons maillé les données de la Children’s Lifestyle and School performance Study (CLASS) de 2003, une enquête de santé auprès de la population des élèves de 5e année de la Nouvelle-Écosse, au Canada, avec les registres administratifs de prestation de soins de santé pour examiner le lien entre les brimades et les rendez-vous médicaux ayant donné lieu au diagnostic d’un trouble d’intériorisation (TI). Des analyses de régression binomiales négatives ont été effectuées pour examiner ce lien.

Résultats

Sur les 4 694 participants, 33,3 % ont dit avoir subi ou exercé des brimades, et 24,1 % avaient eu un rendez-vous médical ayant donné lieu à un diagnostic de TI au cours d’une période de sept ans. Comparativement aux enfants qui ont dit n’avoir ni subi, ni exercé de brimades, les enfants qui ont dit avoir été victimes de harcèlement présentaient un taux plus élevé de diagnostic ultérieur de TI lors d’un rendez-vous médical (rapport de taux d’incidence [RTI] = 1,38, IC de 95 % = 1,11, 1,70). Les enfants qui ont dit avoir exercé des brimades présentaient un taux inférieur de diagnostic de TI (RTI = 0,67, IC de 95 % = 0,46, 0,99); le taux de diagnostic de TI chez les enfants ayant dit avoir à la fois subi et exercé des brimades était égal.

Conclusion

Les brimades doivent être considérées comme un grave problème de santé publique en raison de leur forte prévalence en milieu scolaire et de leurs effets nuisibles sur la santé mentale des adolescents.

Mots-clés

Brimades Santé mentale Santé scolaire Enfance Troubles d’intériorisation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank students, parents, and schools for their participation in the CLASS study. We thank Angela Fitzgerald for her role as project coordinator of the CLASS study, research assistants, and public health staff members who assisted in the data collection; Jason Liang and Connie Lu for data validation and management of the CLASS survey data; and Dr. Xiu Yun Wu for her help with the methodological approach and data analysis. We thank Dr. Yen Chu and Sarah Loehr for their roles as project coordinators for the ROI4Kids Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) team program. We also thank Dr. Leslie Anne Campbell, Craig Gorveatt, Sandra Pauls, and Yan Wang from Health Data Nova Scotia for their support and assistance and advice related to the methodological approach and data analysis.

Funding

The CLASS study was funded through an operating grant by the Canadian Population Health Initiative to PJV. The current study was funded through the CRIO program from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions awarded to PJV and AO. JK received a graduate student stipend through this CRIO program. Contributions by PJV were also funded through a Canada Research Chair in Population Health and an Alberta Research Chair in Nutrition and Disease Prevention. SFLK held a Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research funded by CIHR.

Compliance with ethical standards

Disclaimer

The data (or portions of the data) used in this report were made available by Health Data Nova Scotia of Dalhousie University. Although this research is based on data obtained from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, the observations and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent those of either Health Data Nova Scotia or the Department of Health and Wellness. All interpretations and opinions in the current study are those of the authors.

References

  1. Annerback, E. M., Sahlqvist, L., & Wingren, G. (2014). A cross-sectional study of victimisation of bullying among schoolchildren in Sweden: background factors and self-reported health complaints. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 42(3), 270–277.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494813514142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arseneault, L., Bowes, L., & Shakoor, S. (2010). Bullying victimization in youths and mental health problems: much ado about nothing? Psychological Medicine, 40(5), 717–729.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291709991383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogart, L. M., Elliott, M. N., Klein, D. J., et al. (2014). Peer victimization in fifth grade and health in tenth grade. Pediatrics, 133(3), 440–447.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-3510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Canadian Mental Health Association. Fast facts about mental illness - CMHA National. https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness. Accessed Jan 29 2018.
  5. Copeland, W. E., Wolke, D., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2013). Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(4), 419–426.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Espelage, D., Low, S., Jimerson, S. (2014). Understanding school climate, aggression, peer victimization, and bully perpetration: contemporary science, practice, and policy. School Psychology Quarterly.Google Scholar
  7. Geoffroy, M.-C., Boivin, M., Arseneault, L., et al. (2018). Childhood trajectories of peer victimization and prediction of mental health outcomes in midadolescence: a longitudinal population-based study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 190(2), E37–E43.  https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.170219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gini, G., & Pozzoli, T. (2013). Bullied children and psychosomatic problems: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 132(4), 720–729.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-0614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hawker, D. S. J., & Boulton, M. J. (2000). Twenty years’ research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41(4), 441–455.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hodgins, M. (2008). Taking a health promotion approach to the problem of bullying. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 8(1), 13–23.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1078390308321223. Google Scholar
  11. Jenson, J. M., Brisson, D., Bender, K. A., & Williford, A. P. (2013). Effects of the youth matters prevention program on patterns of bullying and victimization in elementary and middle school. Social Work Research, 37(4), 361–372.  https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/svt030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kelly, E. V., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L. A., et al. (2015). Suicidality, internalizing problems and externalizing problems among adolescent bullies, victims and bully-victims. Preventive Medicine (Baltimore), 73, 100–105.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.01.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kindig, D., & Stoddart, G. (2003). What is population health? American Journal of Public Health, 93(3), 380–383.  https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.93.3.380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kumpulainen, K., Räsänen, E., & Henttonen, I. (1999). Children involved in bullying: psychological disturbance and the persistence of the involvement. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23(12), 1253–1262.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(99)00098-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McMartin, S. E., Kuhle, S., Colman, I., Kirk, S. F. L., & Veugelers, P. J. (2012). Diet quality and mental health in subsequent years among Canadian youth. Public Health Nutrition, 15(12), 2253–2258.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980012000535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., & Telch, M. J. (2010). Peer victimization and internalizing problems in children: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(4), 244–252.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.07.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sigurdson, J. F., Wallander, J., & Sund, A. M. (2014). Is involvement in school bullying associated with general health and psychosocial adjustment outcomes in adulthood? Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(10), 1607–1617.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.06.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sigurdson, J. F., Undheim, A. M., Wallander, J. L., Lydersen, S., & Sund, A. M. (2015). The long-term effects of being bullied or a bully in adolescence on externalizing and internalizing mental health problems in adulthood. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9(1), 1–13.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-015-0075-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Smith, J., Schneider, B. (2004). The effectiveness of whole-school antibullying programs: a synthesis of evaluation research. School Psychology Review.Google Scholar
  20. Sourander, A., Ronning, J., Brunstein-Klomek, A., et al. (2009). Childhood bullying behavior and later psychiatric hospital and psychopharmacologic treatment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(9), 1005–1012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stassen Berger, K. (2007). Update on bullying at school: science forgotten? Developmental Review, 27(1), 90–126.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2006.08.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Takizawa, R., Maughan, B., & Arseneault, L. (2014). Adult health outcomes of childhood bullying victimization: evidence from a five-decade longitudinal British birth cohort. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 171(7), 777–784.  https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13101401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tolan, P. H. (2004). International trends in bullying and children’s health. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 158(8), 831.  https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.158.8.831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van Walraven, C., & Austin, P. (2012). Administrative database research has unique characteristics that can risk biased results. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 65(2), 126–131.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.08.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Veugelers, P. J., & Fitzgerald, A. L. (2005). Prevalence of and risk factors for childhood overweight and obesity. CMAJ, 173(6), 607–613.  https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.050445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wolke, D., Copeland, W. E., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2013). Impact of bullying in childhood on adult health, wealth, crime, and social outcomes. Psychological Science, 24(10), 1958–1970.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613481608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wolke, D., Lereya, S. T., Fisher, H. L., Lewis, G., & Zammit, S. (2014). Bullying in elementary school and psychotic experiences at 18 years: a longitudinal, population-based cohort study. Psychological Medicine, 44(10), 2199–2211.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291713002912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wu, X. Y., Kirk, S. F. L., Ohinmaa, A., & Veugelers, P. J. (2017). The importance of health behaviours in childhood for the development of internalizing disorders during adolescence. BMC Psychology, 5(1), 38.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-017-0208-x. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zwierzynska, K., Wolke, D., & Lereya, T. S. (2013). Peer victimization in childhood and internalizing problems in adolescence: a prospective longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(2), 309–323.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-012-9678-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and Human PerformanceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.School of Public Health, 3-300 Edmonton Clinic Health AcademyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations