Taking bullying by the horns: Childhood bullying behaviours and poor mental health
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Research suggests there are various contributing factors that are associated with childhood bullying behaviour involvement, yet there is a dearth of longitudinal research examining the consequences of bullying behaviours on children’s long-term mental health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that influence bullying behaviours, as well as examine the detrimental effects of bullying behaviours on long-term internalizing problems. Objective 1 examined the cross-sectional association between children’s internalizing symptoms and bullying behaviours, sub-objective 1 examined how overweight/obesity and peer relationships are associated with bullying behaviours, and objective 2 examined the temporal relationship between bullying behaviours and physician-diagnosed internalizing disorders over a seven-years timespan. The study used data from the 2003 Children’s Lifestyle and School Performance Study (CLASS), a population-based health survey of 4694 grade five students. Prospectively linking CLASS data to administrative health care records enabled examination of the temporal relationship between childhood bullying behaviours and physician-diagnosed internalizing disorders. Children who had high levels of internalizing symptoms and poor peer relationships were more likely to be involved in all forms of bullying behaviours (being a victim, being a bully, being a bully-victim). Children who had overweight/obesity were more likely to be a victim. Children who were victims had a higher rate of having a subsequent physician-diagnosed internalizing disorder between 2003-2010. This research provides a greater understanding of the factors associated with bullying behaviours, as well as contributes new knowledge on the consequences of bullying behaviours for long-term internalizing problems. Furthermore, the findings provide evidence for the importance of early prevention strategies and policies to reduce bullying behaviours in children.