Trends in bullying victimization in Scottish adolescents (1994-2014): changing associations with mental well-being

Alina Paula Cosma, Ross David Whitehead, Fergus Gilmour Neville, Dorothy Bruce Currie, Joanna Catherine Inchley

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Objectives Bullying victimization among schoolchildren is a major public health concern. This paper aims to analyse the changing associations over two decades between bullying victimization and mental well-being in a representative Scottish schoolchildren sample.
Methods Data were collected in six rounds of the cross-sectional Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study in Scotland, with 42,312 adolescents (aged 11, 13 and 15 years). Logistic and linear regression were used to examine changes in the association between bullying victimization and mental well-being.
Results The prevalence of bullying victimization rates in Scotland increased between 1994 and 2014 for most age-gender groups, apart from 13-year old boys and 15-year old girls. Over time, female victims reported less confidence and happiness and more psychological complaints than their nonbullied counterparts. This worsening effect over time was not observed in boys.
Conclusions Overall, our evidence indicates that the associations between bullying victimization and poor mental well-being strengthened overtime for bullied girls. This finding might partly explain the observed deterioration in mental health indicators among Scottish adolescent girls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-646
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Bullying victimization
  • Mental well-being
  • Happiness
  • Confidence
  • Time trends


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