[Bullying, psychosocial health and risk behaviour in adolescence].Gesundheitswesen. 2007 Aug-Sep; 69(8-9):475-82.G
Bullying as a subform of aggressive behaviour has not received much attention as a specific risk behaviour in adolescence. Especially the adverse health effects in relation to bullying have been barely discussed in Germany. The objective of this study is to present age- and gender-specific prevalences in bullying and to analyse the association between the different bullying roles and subjective health as well as risk behaviour.
Data were obtained from the German part of the international WHO collaborative study "Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC)" in 2002. Overall, 5,650 school children aged 11-15 years were interviewed with a standardised questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to analyse the association between bullying, psychosocial health and risk behaviour separately for girls and boys.
About 17% of the boys and 10% of the girls aged 11-15 years were classified as repeated bullying perpetrators. About 10% of the school children are victims of being bullied several times a month. Another 3-5% of the adolescents belonged to the group of simultaneous victims and perpetrators (bully-victims). Perpetrators as well as victims showed strong associations with psychosocial health and risk behaviour. Independently of gender, victims were significantly more likely to report repeated psychosomatic complaints, adverse mental health and negative self-reported health (boys only), than uninvolved students. Especially for male perpetrators, strong associations with regular tobacco and alcohol use and repeated drunkenness were found, while these behaviour types were significantly less prevalent among victims. The bully-victim group is characterised by high rates of psychosomatic complaints and mental health problems (boys only).
Bullying also seems to be widespread in schools in Germany and is strongly associated with subjective health and substance-related risk behaviour. The results suggest that bullying is a critical issue that requires increasing attention in health research. The unique health problems of victims and perpetrators suggest different intervention strategies for both groups.