Is bullying equally harmful for rich and poor children?: a study of bullying and depression from age 15 to 27

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Pernille Due, Mogens Trab Damsgaard, Rikke Lund, Bjørn E Holstein

BACKGROUND: Exposure to bullying in childhood and adolescence is harmful to health, well-being and social competence of the victim. However, little is known about the long-term consequences of bullying victimization. In this paper, we use a longitudinal study from age 15 to 27 to examine whether childhood socioeconomic position (CSP) modifies the association between exposure to bullying in childhood and symptoms of depression in young adulthood. METHODS: Nationally representative baseline sample in 1990 (n = 847), followed up 2002 (n = 614). We used multivariate analyses of variance to examine the influence of bullying on symptoms of depression at age 27. RESULTS: Analyses showed that exposure to bullying, low CSP and female gender significantly increased the risk of depression in young adulthood. There was a statistically significant interaction between bullying and CSP, so that bullying increased the risk of depression for people from low CSP, while there was only a weak association between bullying victimization and depressive symptoms for people from more affluent childhood socioeconomic backgrounds. The same pattern was found for analyses stratified by sex. CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that the effects of bullying may have more serious long-term implications on health for children from less affluent backgrounds. Our study points at bullying exposure as another pathway through which social adversity in childhood influences social inequalities in adult health. Political efforts are needed to improve norms and legislations about how to treat children and more specific interventions should take place in schools to reduce the exposure to bullying.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume19
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)464-9
Number of pages5
ISSN1101-1262
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ID: 14831806