Psychosomatic problems as the results of participation in bullying behaviour or risk factor for involvement in bullying behavior

Damir Sesar, Kristina Sesar

Abstract

Objective - To find out whether involvement in bullying behaviour precedes psychosomatic symptoms or whether these symptoms precede involvement in bullying behaviour.

Subjects and methods - A six-month longitudinal study with baseline measurements taken in the autumn of 2008 and follow-up measurements in the spring of 2009 in four elementary schools in the Siroki Brijeg municipalities. The study included 536 children aged 11 to 15 years, who participated by filling out a questionnaire on both occasions of data collection. A self-administered questionnaire measured peer violence and a wide variety of psychosomatic symptoms.

Results - Children involved in bullying behaviour at the beginning of the school year compared to children who were not involved in bullying behaviour had significantly higher chances of developing psychosomatic symptoms such as nervousness and tension (OR=2.59; p=0.010), feeling tired for no reason (OR=2.0; p=0.008) and a feeling of energy loss (OR=2.18; p=0.050) during the school year. At the same time, some psychosomatic problems increase the likelihood of involvement in bullying behaviour. Children who were identified at the beginning of the school year as neutral and who had psychosomatic symptoms which had manifested as dizziness (OR=0.97, p=0.019), feeling tired for no reason (OR=1.84, p=0.018), pain (OR=2.45, p=0.001), eye problems (OR=1.94, p=0.047) and a feeling of energy loss (OR=2.06, p=0.045) were at greater risk of participation in peer violence during the school year.

Conclusion - Many psychosomatic health problems follow involvement in bullying behaviour. Furthermore, our results indicate that children with some psychosomatic health symptoms are at increased risk of being involved in bullying behaviour.

Keywords

Bullying; Longitudinal study; Psychosomatic difficulties

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