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European Journal of Psychology of Education

2006, Vol. XXI, nº 2, 183-208
© 2006, I.S.P.A.

Bullying among students and its consequences on
health
Barbara Houbre
Cyril Tarquinio
Isabelle Thuillier
University of Metz, France

Emmanuelle Hergott
CEFP, France

Violence among students at school is an ever-growing problem.
Bullying can be defined as all forms of repeated physical or mental
violence performed by an individual on another person who is not
capable of defending him/herself (Roland & Idsoe, 2001). The three
studies conducted here reveal some of the characteristics and
implications of this type of aggression. Whether the attacker(s) or the
attacked, all protagonists in a bullying episode suffer the consequences
of this behavior. Study 1 showed that students who were both victims
and bullies had the lowest self-concepts in all areas studied. Victims
exhibited inferior self-concepts to bullies, who in turn obtained lower
scores than students not involved in bullying at all. Study 2 showed, as
expected, that the group of bully/victims reported more psychosomatic
problems than all other groups. In addition, there was a positive link
between behavioral problems and the onset of psychosomatic disorders.
Study 3, which was mainly exploratory, looked at the traumatic impact
of bullying and the emergence of addictive behavior. Children who had
vivid memories of being the victim of an aggressive act manifested a
high level of post-traumatic stress, although no link was observed
between post-traumatic stress and the type of aggression (physical,
verbal, or relational). A dependency relationship was found between
post-traumatic stress and substance use. The results of these studies
suggest that the many complexities of the different protagonists of
bullying should be taken into account in view of developing servicing
that is geared to each individual.

Within the past few decades, aggressive behavior among students has been an important
issue for both researchers and policy makers. The findings of studies on this subject appear to

The authors would like to thank the Moselle Board of Education and the various school principals, teachers,
students, and all other individuals, close and far, who made this study possible.

184 B. HOUBRE, C. TARQUINIO, I. THUILLIER, & E. HERGOTT

be the same in Europe and in the United States: serious bullying affects about 5% of all
students, less serious bullying, between 15% and 30% (Baldry, 1998; O’Moore, 1989; Pepler,
Craig, Ziegler, & Charach, 1993; Slee & Rigby, 1993; Withney & Smith, 1993). In parallel
with prevention programs, an abundant body of literature has been developing on this issue.
According to Olweus (1989), “a student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is
exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students.”
Bullying has three specific characteristics: frequency, the intention to hurt, and an asymmetric
relationship between the bully and the victim. This kind of aggression can be direct or indirect;
it can be expressed in words (threats, mocking, teasing, name calling), via physical contact
(hitting, shoving, kicking, pinching, holding someone back), or by way of social relations
(ostracizing, manipulating friendships) (Berkowitz, 1993; Dodge & Coie, 1987; Olweus,
1984; Smith & Sharp, 1994). In addition to these distinctions, Austin and Joseph (1996)
classified students according to their roles in bullying. Four types were defined: victims,
bullies, bully/victims (who are both the attackers and the attacked), and “not involved”.
Naturally, these aggressive acts have an impact on the students who are involved. We
will address this impact in terms of various psychological characteristics. Whether the effects
show up as an altered self-concept, health problems (psychosomatic symptoms and addictive
behavior), or psychologically traumatic consequences, we will try to determine the extent to
which bullying is an explanatory factor in their emergence.
Concerning the self-concept, many authors have raised the question of how identity
might be related to a child’s status, itself defined by his/her role in the bullying process (bully,
victim, bully/victim, or not involved). It seems that children who are victims of bullying
invariably see themselves as socially “incompetent”. They are generally unpopular among
peers, are more anxiety-ridden and unstable, and display little self-confidence (Craig, 1997;
Kahtri, Kupersmidt, & Patterson, 2000; Olweus, 1989; Perry, Kusel, & Perry, 1988; Slee,
1995). More specifically, high scores on certain victimization scales are often associated with
low scores in scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical
appearance, and global self-worth (Andreou, 2000; Boulton & Smith, 1994). Victims tend to
have more negative self-concepts than individuals in the other two groups involved in bullying
(Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Largerspets, Björkqvist, Berts, & King, 1982; Olweus, 1978,
1984). The findings regarding the self-concepts of bullies are not so clear-cut and are
sometimes even contradictory. According to some authors (Boulton & Underwood, 1992;
Johnson & Lewis, 1999), there is no link between aggressive behavior and self-worth in
students. On the other hand, Andreou (2000) and O’Moore (1997) showed that bullies have
less overall self-worth than children who are not involved in bullying. O’Moore and Kirkham
(2001) mentioned two factors that could account for the discrepancy in these results. The first
concerns the psychometric properties of the assessment tools used. If we separate one-
dimensional scales (self-worth) from multidimensional ones (self-concept), however,
differences show up once again. For O’Moore and Hillery (1991), for example, bullies have
poorer self-concepts than children who are not involved, whereas for Mynard and Joseph
(1997), bullies have better self-concepts in most areas. The second factor concerns the
typology used to differentiate the students. In a study by Olweus (1993), “typical” bullies were
differentiated from “passive” bullies, but then certain passive bullies may also be victims.
Students who were both victims and bullies were found to have lower global self-worth scores
than students in all other groups (Austin & Joseph, 1996; Mynard & Joseph, 1997). Thus,
discrepancies across studies may be due to the criteria used to classify the children.
In matters of bullying, the implications in terms of health have mainly been examined
among bullied victims. Several studies have found a link between being victimized and the
psychosomatic effects of the aggressive events on students’ health (Forero, McLellan, Rissel, &
Bauman, 1999). In 1998, Rigby noted a strong connection between being bullied and headaches.
More recently, Rigby (1999) showed that severe victimization was often associated with poor
physical health. In particular, victims were found to suffer more from sleep disorders, bed-
wetting, headaches, stomachaches, and feeling unhappy (Williams, Chambers, Logan, &
Robinson, 1996). The symptoms also varied according to the victimized child’s gender. Boys

Being victimized also generates a great deal of distress in a child. Kaltiala-Heino. While being popular in some cases (Olweus. Beyond these studies on the traits of each group. or coping strategy that is non- adaptive for the child. 2001). Note that there are no bullying studies to date that have related psychosomatic symptoms to behavioral disorders. isolation. Kandel. & Qvarnstrom. no research has been conducted on the behavioral problems associated with the four bullying statuses identified by Austin and Joseph (1996). 1992. if children exhibit behavioral problems at the age of 8 (aggressiveness. victimization can be a precursor to mental-health disorders. Albrektsen. Shemeikka. 1994) and anxious (Lagerspetz et al. Bullies are dominating (and they like domination. Canter. substance consumption would be highly affected by peer attributions (Adler & Latecka. These results are comparable to those obtained in other studies on aggressive behavior and its link to substance use (Hore. Olweus. 1982). the greater the symptoms.. In short. Concerning victimization. and illicit drugs (Choquet. 1991). victims exhibit mainly internalization behaviors – withdrawal. who were more nervous and had more sleep disorders. are at the bottom of the social acceptance ranking (Mynard & Joseph. need to shout. as compared to non-consumers. tobacco. etc. but still fewer than victims and bully/victims. 1994). By contrast. & Robin. Another possible impact of bullying is addictive behavior. the more numerous the symptoms. Rigby & Slee.. However. fighting). they are rejected by their peers in others (Boulton & Smith. and Rimpela’s (2000) study showed that bullies are greater consumers of substances than victims. although there are a few studies on the problem of substance abuse and its link not only to aggressive acts but also to stressful life events. 1988. 1973. Boulton & Smith. & Manfredi. etc. It seems that regular consumers of alcohol. Anxiety. not the consequence. As such. (Kumpulainen et al. 1987). 2002). for some authors. 1986. aggressive children differ from non-aggressive ones by their greater consumption of alcohol. depression. introversion. theft.9 times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to smoke or take drugs (Lynskey & Ferguson. Only one study found that the presence of psychosomatic symptoms was a function of the child’s bullying status (Natvig. and to be more irritable than girls. we know that by the age of 10. and/or drugs. 1994). of being bullied (Hodges & Perry. Bullies manifested more symptoms than children not involved. The bully/victim group had the highest proportion of symptoms. & Nissinen. Laukkanen. Notkola. so the link can be envisaged in both directions.. 2001). the greater the exposure to bullying. 1998. Smith. and are rejected by peers (Bower. fear of going to school – all the necessary elements are present for provoking emotional and behavioral disorders in the bullied child (Boulton & Underwood. Rimpela. and by peers for boys. 1994. & Petzel. these same disorders are the cause. 1995). and rackets (Oubrayrie-Roussel & Safont-Mottay. cigarettes. Smith. Alcohol is thought to restore self-perceptions about one’s “social” skills. they obtain high scores on neurotic and psychotic scales. Bully/victims differ from both victims and bullies by their personality. 1989). 1993). 1997). Can addictive behavior be considered to generate aggressive acts and/or to serve as a way of maintaining a satisfactory sense of self-worth? . BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 185 tended to have more headaches and backaches. Accordingly. 2001). Albrektsen. Moreover. By the age of 13. the relationships between substance use. adjustment. and also on the social support provided by the teacher for girls. In the case of bullying. Relationships of dependency between aggressive behavior and alcohol consumption are found very early. The number of symptoms appears to be additionally dependent on the distress level. are more often victims of insults. Koivumaa-Honkanen. Johnson. 1988. then they are 1. Studies have shown that children who play a bully/victim or bully “role” are subject to hyperactivity and manifest many externalization behaviors – extraversion. As such. Research on this topic is scarce. however. McKillip. & Qvarnstrom. Tygard. alcohol and tobacco consumption is associated with stressful life events and daily problems (Steinhausen & Metzke. & Binney. substance use is considered as a response. From this angle. 1998). and victimization are not easy to define. Perry et al. loneliness. inability to sit still. Rantanen. The results suggest that such substances are consumed by children in an attempt to reduce behavioral problems related to peer perceptions. aggression. 1992). 1973. The data also show that girls are more inclined to report a wider variety of symptoms than boys (Natvig. Menke. 1999). The less support received. violence.

1991). we are going to address each of these points by looking at the effects of bullying on three levels: (1) its impact on identity. & Hjelt-Bäck. In the child. which involves avoidance behavior. can we really speak of post-traumatic stress. forgetting of childhood memories. suppression of stressful material from the consciousness. fits of rage. An investigation on victims of bullying at work showed that 76% of the bullied individuals were suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder (Mikkelsen & Einarsen. two types of psychotraumatic disorders are generally distinguished (Terr. . Intrusion (or approach). 1991). and irritability. helplessness. satisfies the need to adapt to reality. Children under six rarely exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress as they are described in DSM IV. (D) persistent symptoms of increased arousal (irritability. or horror. in Pynoos et al. C. flashbacks. Leymann & Gustafsson. neurovegetative activation. etc. anger. THUILLIER. and (3) traumatic consequences. A case study on a young victimized adolescent showed that she developed a post- traumatic stress disorder after being subjected to repeated acts of aggression. fears related to the traumatic event. Horowitz. Stinson. The present study looks in particular at the second type of psychotraumatic disorder. 1979. HOUBRE. occupational. Scott and Stradling (1994) described three individuals who did not exhibit DSM IV’s Criterion A (having experienced an event that provoked intense fear and involved death or was a threat to physical integrity) but exhibited post-traumatic stress without trauma. Because the child’s age and developmental level can affect the manifestations of these symptoms. Other studies concur with these in pointing out the devastating impact of bullying on the lives of the affected persons (Björkvist. (C) persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (diminished interest in work and family). knowing that the events in question are not “deleterious”? Various studies on this topic suggest that the answer is yes. The theory proposed by Horowitz offers a good alternative. Horowitz. 1991): those following a single deleterious event. witnessed. difficulty concentrating). and (F) the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social. However. 1994. the Americans described post-traumatic stress in terms of diagnosis criteria defined in the first version of DSM III (1980). It satisfies the need to protect the ego from the crushing power of the traumatic event. Later. 1974. dreams. the disorder varies with development (Schwarz & Perry. (E) the duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B. and personality problems (Terr. and D) is more than one month. Six criteria are currently listed in DSM IV: (A) The person has experienced. These highly specific descriptions of the state of post-traumatic stress have been challenged by many authors. no link was found between post-traumatic stress severity and the children’s ages. and anxiety about the future (Keppel- Benson & Ollendick. or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. But in the case of bullying. which this author called “prolonged duress stress disorder” (PDSD). (2) somatic and behavior implications. or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury. (B) the traumatic event is persistently reexperienced (dreams. physiological reactivity). Cognitive development also appears to play a preponderant role in the interpretation of events. 1996). intrusive thoughts. & E. flashbacks. and the person’s response involved intense fear. 1999). Österman. or other important areas of functioning. I. the ability to cope. Avoidance (or denial) is characterized by numbing. 2002). somatic complaints.). The notion of “trauma” appeared along with traumatic neurosis. slow onset of disorders. TARQUINIO. HERGOTT The consequences of bullying can also be approached in terms of its traumatic impact. In the same vein.’s (1993) study following an earthquake. and avoidance of memories related to stressful stimuli. 1993). and those following a repeated or long-lasting deleterious event. & Field. In the three experiments reported below. who feel they do not reflect reality due to the many existing interindividual differences (Bowman. described by Oppenheim (1889) as a state characterized by nightmares. According to this author. C.186 B. 1994). which is characterized by invasive thoughts (constant reliving of the event. in addition to the fact that post-traumatic stress may depend on development. mood disorders. post-traumatic stress is a cognitive process involving fluctuation between avoidance reactions and intrusive thoughts (which are likened to the processes of assimilation and accommodation.

Thus. and bully/victims (persons who are not involved make up the control group). a bully.” To answer. and global self-worth (overall self-esteem). athletic competence (physical and sports abilities). Four of the children refused to take part. & Jankech-Caretta. a bully/victim. The questionnaire requires the self-appraisal of competency in several areas of daily life. or not involved (control group). we expected the lowest self-worth among bully/victims. published by Austin and Joseph (1996) and constructed specifically for use in conjunction with Harter’s (1982) self-concept scale. which may be particularly unreliable in the youngest children. The second questionnaire included two subscales. for each dimension. 120 agreed to have their child participate in the study.9% in fifth grade). social competence (making friends easily. we examine the self-concept in terms of the child’s status as defined by Austin and Joseph (1996). It is the scale most commonly used in studies on school bullying. 1987). The answers are scored on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 4. A cutoff point (2. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 187 STUDY 1: THE SELF-CONCEPT OF BULLIES AND VICTIMS It is clear from a brief overview of the literature that the available findings are highly contradictory. the “Peer Victimization Scale” and the “Bullying Behaviour Scale”. Bullying. The areas covered are school (scholastic or cognitive aptitude). Based on the main findings presented above. appearance (satisfaction with one’s looks). A high mean score indicated a high frequency of aggressive acts executed and/or received. Method Participants The sample was composed of 116 pupils ages 9 to 12 (m=10.50) was used to classify the children by their status as a victim. Plancherel. It measures aggressive acts executed and received. victims. This self-evaluation instrument measures the self-concept in a multidimensional perspective and was designed to offset the tendency to give socially desirable responses. while paying particular attention to the social-relations dimension and its manifestations in each group. 47. In the present study. with 4 representing the most favorable rating from the standpoint of the self-concept. Within this subgroup. we also examined the self-concept for various areas of life. who differentiated bullies. but other children do hit and push other children about. The occupational categories of the parents were representative of the general population of France. . the score varied between 5 and 20. Self-concept. Of the 145 requests for consent given to the parents. the child had to pick which group of children he/she resembled the most and then state the degree of resemblance (“really true for me” versus “sort of true for me”). conduct (self-control). popularity). The first one was used to measure the self- concept.4% of whom were boys. The pupils were from three elementary schools where they were attending fourth or fifth grade (50. A mean score was calculated for each scale (range 1 to 4). The questionnaire had already been translated from English into French and validated (Pierrehumbert. Each subscale is composed of six items scored on a four-point scale. Harter’s (1982) Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC) was administered.67). A sample item is: “Some children do not hit and push other children about. Measures The pupils filled out two questionnaires. and the second to assess aggressive acts executed and received.

05. & E. The data was gathered in May and June.001). followed by bullies (12. and it is difficult for the pupil being bullied to defend himself or herself.46) Total (n=116) 15 (12. locked inside a room.52) 12 (10. HOUBRE. df=3. Girls were less involved in bullying than boys.34) 71 (61.03) 05 (8.188 B. say nasty and unpleasant things to him or her.73) 32 (52. More specifically.665.112)=15. Once permission to conduct the study had been obtained from the school principals and teachers. df=15. and global self-worth (F(3. For each questionnaire.52%). df=3. Table 1 Number of students (and percentage of the row). and global self-worth dimensions. HERGOTT Procedure The schools that participated in the study were chosen at random. bully/victims obtained the lowest scores on dimensions related to self-control.” Then the questionnaires were handed out and the children were given as much time as they needed to answer them. the children had to answer in reference to the past school year. self-control (F(3. df=15. threatened.112)=8. Results For the sample as a whole.93) Boys (n=55) 09 (16. At the same time. teachers.439.112)=4.93%) and then children who were both victims and bullies (10. social competence. Before filling in the questionnaires.001). and that there were no right or wrong answers.84) 11 (18.687. their self-perceptions of their athletic abilities were better than those of victims. However.365.112)=8. a request for parental consent containing a brief description of the study was given to each child. It is also bullying when a pupil is teased repeatedly in a nasty way.34%). p<. or friends) would find out what answers they gave. they obtained higher scores than the bully/victims but lower ones than the bullies and controls on the social competence. their self-control score was lower than the control group’s but higher than the scores of the other . and most of the involved girls were victims. and global self-worth.73) 07 (12. athletic competence (F(3. TARQUINIO.21) Concerning the pupils’ self-concepts (Table 2). or picked on. or the occupational categories of the father (χ2=17. The questionnaires were administered collectively during class by a single experimenter. the child’s gender had an impact on the distribution (χ2=9. physical appearance. Boys primarily played the “role” of aggressor. Victims were the most numerous (15.79. p<. physical appearance. school grades (χ2=3. or group of pupils. kicked. when another pupil. p=NS). who reminded the children that the questionnaires were anonymous and that no one in their surroundings (parents. The pupils were also told that this was not a test or homework. These things can happen frequently. p=NS). Concerning the victims.8% of the pupils were involved in bullying in one way or another (Table 1).36) 07 (12.14. we can see that the children’s bullying status affected the scores on the following dimensions: social competence (F(3. sent nasty notes. There was no significant difference across ages (χ2=7. However.001).078. p<.624. p=NS). by gender and bullying status Bullies Victims Bully/victims Control group Girls (n=61) 06 (9.93) 18 (15.01). I. It is also bullying when a pupil is hit. But it is not bullying when two pupils of about the same strength have the odd fight or quarrel (Piers.001).20)0 39 (63. p<. 1984). p<.112)=10. C. the children were given a definition of bullying: “We say a pupil is being bullied. df=9. p=NS) or mother (χ2=11. when no one ever talks to them or things like that. but still below those of the bully group and the control group.75. 38. THUILLIER. p<. physical appearance (F(3.05).

Global competence competence competence appearance control self-worth α=. Finally.001) while bullying did not (β=. p<.01 p<.23 (0. a linear regression analysis (Table 3) showed that being bullied accounted for the child’s overall self-worth (β=-. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 189 two groups. p<.72) 3. although above that of bully/victims. p<.12 (0.050 Athletic .61 (0.001).86) 2.11. concerning the bullies as compared to the other two groups involved in bullying. physical appearance (r=-.001 -.11 NS Discussion of Study 1 The proportions of our pupils in the different bullying-status categories were lower than those published by Austin and Joseph (1996).21 (0.47.26.001 Appearance .61) 2.15 (0.23.53) 2.22. there was a strong positive correlation between self-control and being bullied (r=.52 (0.38 .64 (0.276 -. p<.03 NS Self-control .28 (0.001 p<.62) 2.87 R2 β p R2 β p School .50.54) 3.001 . p<. Table 2 Mean score (and standard deviation) on the self-concept scale.05).52.001 Global self-worth .55 . They even obtained higher scores than the control group on athletic and social competence. However.58) 2.54 (0. p<05).52. and self- worth (r=-.001). p<.69) 2.291 -.97) 2. and global self-worth (r=.79 α=. Table 3 Linear regressions of the self-concept dimensions.51) Significance NS p<.00 (0.18 NS .80) Bully/victims 2. for aggressive acts received and aggressive acts executed Aggressive acts received α=. p<. However.010 -. p<.78) Control group 2.80 (0.050 . p=NS).60 (0.12 NS Social .001 .252 -.46 . physical appearance (r=. However. On the victimization side.36 (0.001 .37 (0. athletic competence (r=-.05). Only 38.65) 2.83) 2.53. p<. p<.77) 2.93 (0. the highest opinions of their physical appearance.001). In addition.82 Aggressive acts executed α=.20.80 α=. and positive but more moderate correlations between bullying and social competence (r=.30 (0.66) 3.036 -.8% of our children were involved in .67) 3.17 . athletic competence (r=. their perceived self-control. A closer look at the strength of the links between the various self-concept dimensions and aggressive acts executed and received indicated a strong negative correlation between bullying and self-control (r=-.46 (0. They also obtained the lowest score on self-perceptions of athletic competence. The classification was based on a 2.98 (0.51 (0.001 p<. and the most global self-worth.001 .89 Bullies 2.85 α=.45) 2.50 .46) 2.96 (0.01).30.50) 3. was lower than for victims and control subjects.009 -. by bullying status Scholastic Social Athletic Physical Self.001). both receiving and executing acts of aggression explained social competence and self-control.61) 3. there were significant negative correlations between being bullied and social competence (r=-.05).47 (0.001 p<.60) 2.50 cutoff point for the victimization scale and the aggression scale.237 -.01). they were the ones who had the best self-concepts.056 -. The same was true of scholastic competence and appearance.85) 2.13 (0.245 -.23 .001 Note.78 α=.37 .34 .55.78 (0.81 α=.53 (0.013 -.74) Victims 2.301 -.

because of the characteristics of children with this status (anxiety. Our figures were lower especially for victims (15%) and bully/victims (10%). athletic competence were low. & Gariepy. however. This gender difference in aggressive behavior has already been observed elsewhere (Olweus. . global self-worth. and above all. the individual correlations found here indicate that it is especially being bullied that is negatively linked to social competence. with girls engaging more readily in indirect.. and mental disorders were examined by looking into potential behavioral problems. Our victims’ self-perceptions concerning their social competence. In particular. at least as far as identity is concerned. 1993). whereas Austin and Joseph (1996) obtained 46% (bullies 9%. more subtle forms of bullying (backbiting. O’Moore. Olweus. TARQUINIO. It could be. Neckerman. which showed that bullies benefit from greater physical strength. This cannot be said for self-ratings of social and athletic competence. Note also that girls were less often involved in bullying than were boys. 1986). 1967). 1992. bully/victims 15%). instability. 2001) and tend to see themselves in a negative way (Olweus. but only among their immediate peer group (Boulton & Underwood. 1992. since qualitative differences have also been observed. which exceeded those of the control group. Pupils who are victims alone also seem to be affected by identity problems but in lesser proportions. that poor relations with peers account for why a child has a particularly bad self-image and substantial identity problems. manipulation of friendships) rather than in the more overt. Finally. bullies seem to suffer less than all others involved in bullying. Pepler et al. 1993. Modified self-perceptions may alter a child’s relationship to the outside world. Violence seems to be expressed differently by the two genders. physical appearance. the boy-girl difference appears to be more than one of mere number. several studies have shown that bullies are in fact quite popular. victims 22%. THUILLIER. But this finding does not suffice. These findings are consistent with a number of earlier studies (Austin & Joseph. 1980) and in gender roles (Eagly & Steffen. then. Withney & Smith. 1998. 1989. It was assumed for bully/victims that. On the aggressor side. 1984) – aggressive acts were shown to be three or four times more frequent among boys than among girls (Baldry. Slee & Rigby. Regarding social competence. 2001. I. which in turn could lead to a deeper disorder. We now know that bullying is likely to affect a pupil’s identity on both the cognitive (self-concept) and affective (self-worth) levels. 1993. However. HOUBRE. C.. rumors. This was our rationale for addressing the issue of bullying from a pathological angle. O’Moore & Kirkham. we know that social values circulating in a classroom (positive versus negative attitudes toward school) may be such that the prestige of a given child’s conduct is positively correlated with conformity (Hargreaves. physical forms of bullying employed by boys. 2001) but contradict the results obtained by Andreou (2000) and Boulton and Smith (1994). 1992) and have the lowest social-acceptance scores (Mynard & Joseph. However. & E. although their scores were still below those of the control group. in the area of athletic competence. Gest. we looked at how a child’s bullying status affects manifestations of psychosomatic symptoms. It seems that bully/victims differ from victims and bullies by their relationships to others: they are rejected the most by peers (Bowers et al. Boulton & Underwood. Cairns. Funk. Cairns. 1993).190 B. STUDY 2: PSYCHOSOMATIC SYMPTOMS AND BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS This study was conducted in two phases. These results corroborate past studies and support the idea that victims are not popular (O’Moore & Kirkham. This could explain why bully/victims perceive their physical and sports abilities more favorably than do victims. 1997). 1988. These distinctions are thought to be rooted in biological differences (Maccoby & Jacklin. 1984). Somatic disorders were assessed by searching for signs of health problems. In the first. 1996. HERGOTT one way or another in bullying. We can also see that pupils who were both victims and bullies had the poorest self- concepts in nearly every area. our results are consistent with Olweus’s (1984) study.

Only two will be presented here. 1978). and the data was also collected in May and June. 1991). “somewhat or sometimes true” (1). Each item was scored on a scale ranging from 0 (never) to 4 (every day). The pupils ranged in age between 9 and 12 (m=10. part 1 (dizziness. a social subscale (0 to 12). It was assumed that a positive link exists between these two variables. The behavioral-problem scale consists of 119 forced-choice items to which the child has to answer “not true” (0). waking at night: 4 items). tingling sensations: 5 items). we eliminated 3 items concerning changes in sexual desire for one’s partner and menstruation problems (9. feeling tense: 13 items). Five of these children did not want to take part. this self-report questionnaire was translated into French by Vermeersch and Fombonne (1997). 148 fourth graders and 143 fifth graders. for validity reasons concerning the use of the behavioral-problem scale (which can only be administered to children between the ages of 11 and 18). vision problems. Aschenbach. Inventory of youth behavioral problems (ages 11 to 18). eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia: 3 items). In the second phase. Measures Four scales were used to test our hypotheses. It enables the child to evaluate his/her psychopathological profile. and diarrhea and constipation (2 items). The occupational categories of the parents were representative of the general population of France. neurovegetative disorders. lower back. perspiration. memory problems: 5 items). muscles: 3 items).14) and were attending five different schools. or “very true or often true” (2). BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 191 unpopularity). pimples: 2 items). 1993) composed of 47 items. vegetative symptoms and dysuria (dry mouth. Procedure The procedure was the same as in the first study. we focused on behavioral problems and their potential link to the onset of psychosomatic symptoms. We asked our children to base their answers on the past six months. only the fifth . Developed by Aschenbach (“Youth Self-Report”. The answers were to pertain to the past school year. somatic pain (pain in the abdomen. However. This scale was derived from Boyer and Guelfi’s “Checklists for the Evaluation of Somatic Symptoms” (CHESS. because the other two are described above (self-concept and aggressive acts executed and received). Method Participants The sample was composed of 291 subjects. part 2 (heart palpitations. and a school subscale (0 to 4). skin conditions (itching. and provides measures of social competence and behavioral problems. these children would be the most affected by psychosomatic problems. sleep disorders (difficulty falling asleep. stomachaches: 4 items).to 12-year-old children suffer little if at all from these types of problems). digestive disorders (nausea. trouble breathing: 3 items). neurovegetative disorders. We used the second version of the scale (CHESS-2: Guelfi & Pull. This gave us a 44-item scale assessing cognitive difficulties (trouble concentrating. 1991) and derived from the “Child Behavior Checklist” (CBCL. abdominal pain. Of the 305 parents who were given requests for consent. From these. Psychosomatic symptom scale. 296 agreed to have their child participate in the study. The social-competence scale includes an activity subscale (ranging from 0 to 12).

p<.44%) [31-44] 07 (12. p<. I.287)=3.192 B.0 11 (26. p=NS). The control group obtained the lowest score on every dimension. 60% had more than 15 symptoms. p=NS) or mother (χ2=7.679. differences across statuses were found on cognitive problems (F (3.64%) 07 (17.287) =2. p=NS).91%) [11-15] 24 (42. Among these. χ2=22. p<.28%) 13 (29. p=NS).48%) [21-30] 08 (14. neurovegetative disorders part 2 (difficulty breathing.01).10%) [16-20] 08 (14. difficulty breathing) where their scores were lower. pupils who were both victims and bullies obtained the highest score on every dimension (except for cognitive problems. For the set of all children involved in bullying. df=12.05).978. Table 4 Number of students with each bullying status (using a cutoff point of 2. HOUBRE.36%) 04 (9.006.58. heart palpitations: F(3.287)=3.1 Control Group 149 51. p<. The children in this portion of the sample were 11 or 12 years old (m=11.227. df=4. school grades (χ2=1.05). 68% were victims. df=9.287)=4.07%) Note.462.15%) 15 (10.04%) 06 (13.54%) 05 (11. and 40% were bullies (Table 5).287)=3. df=12. and skin conditions (F(3. 78% were bully/victims. somatic disorders (F(3.8% of the children were involved in bullying (Table 4). Results In all. p<. Victims had higher means than bullies in all other areas except digestive and neurovegetative disorders part 2. HERGOTT graders rated themselves on this scale (n=143). Thus. bullies can be said to fall between victims and bully/victims along the digestive and neurovegetative 1 dimensions. p<. or occupational categories of the father (χ2=12. TARQUINIO.1 Bully/Victims 041 14. p<.55%) 14 (34.05.04%) 11 (25%)0. p<.08. (heart palpitations. dizziness: F(3. where victims scored higher).2 Psychosomatic symptoms The number of symptoms for each bullying status differed significantly ( χ2=22.6 Victims 044 15.462.12.50) Number (n) Percentage (%) Bullies 057 19. THUILLIER. But they fell between .89.12).05). C.49%) 24 (16.05).76%) 55 (36.05) (Table 6). df=15. digestive problems (F(3. There were no significant differences across ages (χ2=10.07%) 32 (21.45%) 05 (12.10%) 09 (20. df=15. Table 5 Number of students (and percentage of the column).360.83%) 23 (15.05). & E. More specifically. by number of psychosomatic symptoms exhibited Number of symptoms Bullies Victims Bully/victims Control group [0-10] 10 (17.287)=3. neurovegetative disorders part 1 (vision problems. 48.186.

78).81) p<.01).47.50 cutoff point) Number (n) Percentage (%) Bullies 25 17.66) 0. followed by victims (m=7.05 Neurovegetative disorders. bullies (m=7.48) 0.46) 0.01).56 (0.85) 1. p<. For all symptoms combined (F (3. the third model had significant regressions for aggressive acts received (β=.68) 1.45) 0.41) p<.55) 0.01).83) 0.51 (0.66 (0.56.56 (0.70) 0.01).05 Neurovegetative disorders.80 (0. part 2 0.47) NS A stepwise ascending multiple regression analysis on the psychosomatic symptom data pointed out a link with the self-concept.49. p<. we can see that the scores were equivalent on the . by bullying status (2.99) 1.69) 0.01).46) 0.96 (0.05 Sleeping disorders 1.63 (0.64 (0. p<. Table 7 Distribution of students.01).69 (0.55) 1.57 (0.9 Bully/Victims 19 13.51) NS Skin conditions 0.36 (0.287) =4. p<.00 (0. Eight predictors were input (the six self-concept dimensions and the aggressive-acts-executed and aggressive-acts-received variables). p<.50 (0. p<.41) NS Diarrhea and constipation 0.25 (0.41 (0.3 Not involved 79 55. these two variables explained 32% of the observed variance in psychosomatic symptoms (R2=. p<.14).38 (0. by bullying status β=.2 Comparing our results with Fombonne’s obtained during the validation of the French Child Behavior Checklist (Table 8).75 (0. and aggressive acts executed (β=. The bullying-status distribution of these pupils was similar to that of all subjects pooled (Table 7).06 (0.05 Eating disorders 0.39.01) that accounted for 22% of the observed variance in the psychosomatic-symptom variable (R 2=.29.48 (0.75 (1. SD=4.73 (0.76 (0.220.39.05 Vegetative symptoms 0. Finally.55 (0.61) p<. part 1 0. there was a significant regression on aggressive acts received (β=. and finally pupils not involved in bullying at all (m=6.46) 0. SD=3. This model accounted for 42% of the observed variance (R2=.58) p<.62).84) 0.52. Table 6 Mean score (and standard deviation) on the psychosomatic symptom subscales.86) 0.43) 0.317.63 (0. Behavioral problems Recall that the sample used to study behavior disorders was composed of 143 children who were at least 11 years old.27 (0.84 (0.95) NS Digestive disorders 0.11) 0.01) and social competence (β=-. SD=4. SD=3.62) 0.87 (0.70). p<.66 (0. and skin dimensions.58) 0.49 (0.38.47 (0.185.39 (0.81) 0. For the first.72) 1.37) 0. Here again.33 (0. somatic. Three models were retained by the multiple regression analysis.68) 0.77 (0. Combined.51) 0.54) p<.01). nearly 45% of the pupils were involved in bullying.13 (0.62 (0.50) p<.01 Somatic pain 0.87 (0.67) 0. p<.6 Victims 20 13.419. The second model explained aggressive acts received (β=.62 (0.53) 1.57) 0.28.01).97) 1.27 (0. p<. bully/victims had the highest number of symptoms (m=9.72.02 (0. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 193 victims and controls along the neurovegetative 2.54) 1.73 Bullies Victims Bully/victimes Control group Significance Cognitive difficulties 0. social competence (β=-.86 (0.

the proportions of victims and bully/victims were similar.92 51.03 (3. 1998.03). More specifically. SD=22.05). and the highest score. SD=1.05 03.86). whose overall mean was close to the control group’s (m=5.27 (1.13.342). The .12 (19. and skin conditions.31 (1. p=NS.59 (2.7).0) 36. & Rimpelä. (2001). even higher than the control group (m=6. and in two samples tested by Fombonne using the French Child Behavior Checklist (1989) Study 2 Fombonne Bullies Victims Bully/victims Control group p Clinical sample Normal sample Activities α=.76) 05.79 03.66).7)0 School α=.012).73. school (F(3.05 51. SD=1.29. as compared to victims (m=57. & E. digestive problems. the greater the psychosomatic symptoms (β=-.053). R2=.5)0 Behav.03. SD=1.9)0 Social comp.1 (2.03.0)0 16.75) 05.47. Rigby.4 (1.. p<. However. particularly symptoms of digestive and neurovegetative disorders. 2001. In our study.003).67) 15. by the bullies (m=6.07 (0.194 B.77 (8.05 04.77.67 05. The results of this experiment showed that children involved in bullying (victims.. neurovegetative disorders. the greater the number and frequency of psychosomatic problems.98. we obtained a bullying-status distribution that differed from Austin and Joseph’s (1996) – our proportion of bullies was twice as high. no associations were noted with school ( β =-. Rimpelä.83) p<.0 (18. Rantanen.47) subscales.36. problems α=. somatic pain.51 (0. SD=0. SD=27. these results are consistent with the findings of other studies (Natvig et al.139)=2. However. SD=2. C. This finding is comparable to that obtained by Natvig et al. The more behavioral problems the children had.58 (0.17. p<. somatic pain.93).8) followed by bullies (m=51.001).437.78) and then victims (m=5.124. or overall social competence (β=. These same bullies were the ones who obtained the lowest mean score on the school dimension (m=3. It is particularly interesting to note that the lowest score on the social dimension was obtained by the bully/victims (m=4. Table 8 Mean score (and standard deviation) on the behavioral problems scale by bullying status in Study 2.4)0 6.48 (3. 2000). and behavior (F (3.8) 64.25) 06. or bully/victims) exhibited a large number of psychosomatic symptoms. bullies.3)0 Social α=.78) 06.04 (20.3)0 5. Bullies had a higher psychosomatic symptom level than controls.2 (2.32 (2. bully/victims had the highest mean scores and were the most affected by neurovegetative disorders. SD=19.07.6 (3. activities ( β =.5 (4.41 (1. p<.93) 04.5 (2.139)=2. R 2 =.38. we found significant status-related differences on the social (F (3. 1999. SD=18.11) 04. The bully/victims (m=64.31.58. TARQUINIO.7) 57. especially cognitive difficulties.50) 15. SD=8.75).7) p<.86).05.. and social competence (m=16.07. SD=3.76).17 (2.86) p<.05). followed by bully/victims (m=4. and skin conditions.81 15. Again. who noted that nearly 71% of these subjects had the highest number of psychosomatic symptoms. Discussion of Study 2 Here again.47) 05. for the subscales assessing school (m=4. R2=. social (m=5.0) gave themselves the highest mean rating on behavioral problems.05) subscales. p=NS.08. HERGOTT activities (m=5. Kaltiala-Heino. which corroborates earlier findings (Natvig et al. SD=0.035.0 (0. p=NS.12.78) 05.50 06. R 2 =. p<. 2001. α=. Williams et al.29 (18. Note the differences.21 (3.56 (3.139) =2.1)0 5.83). We also found a negative link with the social dimension: the lower the social score.27.66) 06.2) 30.87) and behavioral problems (m=52. however.30) NS 13.36) 18. HOUBRE. SD=0. p<. I. THUILLIER. Victims had health problems too. R2=.001.91) NS 05. SD=0.1 (22.38 (27.51.6 (1. 1996). SD=1.03 (1.36).60.3) We might also mention the importance of behavioral problems in the manifestation of psychosomatic symptoms (β=.25 (2.

bullies had low scholastic competence. This set of manifestations. we predicted that there would be a positive link between substance use and post-traumatic stress level. 1992). of bullying can be dangerous for a pupil’s health. health (psychosomatic symptoms). STUDY 3: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS AND ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR Few studies have taken an interest in the traumatic effects of aggressive acts among students at school. victimization. their scholastic history is marked by repeated failures and disappointments (San José. Academically. Perrenoud. Two student populations were compared: ones attending normal schools. 1999. In most cases. We were also interested in the manifestations of addictive behavior. and behavior. This finding also applies to victims and to bullies. as observed by Fombonne in a clinical sample. The next question we raised concerned whether these indicators merely represent the tip of the iceberg or whether bullying has a deeper impact. which are only some of the problems examined in the bullying research. as we suspect. More specifically. but that the various protagonists of bullying must be taken into consideration in their entirety and with all of the complexities involved. 1991). & Steinberg. Mounts. This study also looked for a possible link between behavioral problems and the child’s status with respect to bullying. Thus. who are from underprivileged. What is the real impact of bullying? Is it simply a factor of stress or anxiety. 2001. and aggressive acts executed. “welfare” children. Our hypothesis was that these three variables are positively correlated. culturally deprived homes. For these authors. in homes with a very low socioeconomic standing. We assumed that a child’s post-traumatic stress level varies with the extent to which he/she is bullied. low self-perceived social competence. or. Dornbush. In addition. We are not suggesting that there is a direct causal relation between aggressive behavior and health. Many studies have found a positive link between failure in school and aggressive behavior (Baranger. they are highly emotional and adult-dependent. Children enrolled in a special-education program exhibit a number of social and psychological characteristics that make them incapable of adjusting to a normal school environment. To this end. who are the offspring of immigrants but have no apparent personality problems. 1988). suffer from feelings of failure and inferiority. as various studies have already shown. are indicative of the probable “ill-being” suffered by victims of bullying. Bully/victims were deficient in social and scholastic competence. they are from families with many children who live in crowded conditions. Lamborn. This result is in line with our preceding study. In addition. and are not very resistant to frustrations. and acts of aggression. Students who are doing poorly in school are known to have below-average levels of self- worth (Chapman. We now know that bullying is likely to have repercussions on identity (altered self- concept). and “pathological cases” or children who require therapy because of behavior and personality problems. but also a perpetrator. does it have psychotraumatic consequences that jeopardize the very mental soundness of the individual? We will try to answer this question in Study 3. 1989). the two are interdependent – they mutually reinforce each other and thereby increase the feeling of being left out (Aubert. the direction of the link is difficult to determine. being a victim. were looked for links between substance use. However. Psychologically speaking. For all . and had significantly more behavioral problems than other children involved or not involved in aggressive acts. This is one of the issues tackled in this study. We can also see that bullies had particularly high social competence scores. They are placed in a special school due to a slight or moderate “intellectual deficiency” or to “maladjustment”. and ones enrolled in a special-education program1. A study by San José (1992) pointed out three profiles: “uprooted” children. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 195 manifestation of psychosomatic symptoms was partially explained by aggressive acts received. these students are mentally unstable.

4% for the adolescents from regular schools. so this was the only way we could compare “regular” and “special-ed” groups. data collection took place in March and April.11) 35 (25)0. by looking at their self-concept.3)0 70 (100)0. and its impact on them.43) 097 (29. Procedure The procedure was the same as in the first two studies. *Unemployed or housewife.42) Note.38 13. .0 118 (36. we wanted to compare special-education children to children attending regular schools. In addition. In addition. laborers.00 008 (4.00 Origin French 84 (91.63)0 01 (0. Method Participants The subjects in the sample (n=162) were attending either a regular middle school (n=70) or a special-education school (n=92).71)0 004 (1.9)00 Parents’ occupational category Shop owner 08 (4. In each school. though.00 14. We also expected to find more signs of post-traumatic stress in students attending a special school.0 079 (24. The special-ed group had a majority of boys (68%). 154 (95. p<.02)0 Manager/professional 39 (21.5)0 29 (41. this study dealt with adolescents.4)0 092 (56.575. their involvement in bullying.72) 28 (20)0. We predicted that aggressive behavior and victimization would be more prevalent in a special-education setting than in a regular middle school. parents who were laborers or unemployed made up 73% of the special-ed population.94) Employee 51 (27. This time. Table 9 Characteristics of the samples Special education Regular schooling Whole sample (n=92) n(%) (n=70) n(%) (n=162) n(%) Gender Male 63 (68. whereas this figure was 81. TARQUINIO.38) Laborer 03 (1. C.35)0 18 (12.5)0 41 (58.2)0 Age [range] [13-16] [12-17] [12-17] Mean 14. or unemployed. THUILLIER. & E. less than 3% of 11.84) Female 29 (31.00 14. This group difference was significant for the father’s occupation (χ2=5. There was some degree of imbalance across schools in the students’ genders and in the parents’ occupational categories (Table 9).7)00 00 (0)0.24)0 Retired/unemployed* 83 (45. df=1.5% of the fathers of special-ed students were farmers.19) 58 (41. employees. whereas the regular-school group had a more balanced gender distribution (41% boys). I. as Oubrayrie-Roussel and Safont-Montay (2001) showed in a study on substance use.196 B. The reason for this difference is that children in France are not tracked and oriented by level until they enter middle school.21 Median 14. retired. versus 61% for the regular-school group.05): 93. Studying middle school children thus provided us with an older sample (age range 12 to 17 years). equal-size groups were selected from every grade between the sixth and ninth grades.6)0 070 (43.10) Foreign 08 (8.to 13-year-olds are regular substance consumers. Unlike the preceding studies.99 14. HOUBRE.86) 026 (8. HERGOTT of these characteristics which make them “unusual”.

3) 031 (19. during that year. they had been the victim of one or more aggressive acts that they remembered vividly.9)0 Not involved 46 (50)0. with a cutoff point of 2.1) 100 (61. but also and especially. A few questions were added from the ISPA (Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism).8) 10 (14. This instrument is used to diagnose a state of post- traumatic stress. which is an essentially epidemiological questionnaire pertaining to alcohol. 1979). Table 10 Number of students (and percentage). to measure the post-traumatic stress level following a specific event. the students had to fill out the “Impact Event Scale” (Horowitz. the first two scales will not be presented since they are described above in Study 1. In our study. Avoidance behaviors are measured on eight items. which assesses the frequency of avoidance and intrusion phenomena linked to the experience of a particular event.2) Victims 21 (22. and drug use.50 Special education (n=92) Regular schooling (n=70) Whole sample (n=162) n (%) n (%) n (%) Bullies 18 (19. the internal consistency ratings of the tobacco.81. p<.53. and drug subscales were . alcohol.01). for a total score of 0 to 35. or relational) and when the event(s) had taken place. If they said yes. the internal consistency ratings of the avoidance and intrusion subscales were . and a post-traumatic stress scale. with a total score ranging from 0 to 16. . whereas only 22.6)0 01 (1.655.4)0 008 (4. Addictive behaviors. Next. Alcohol drinking was measured on an eight- item subscale (total score: 0-29).01.1)0 23 (14. they had to state what type of aggression it was (physical. The questions pertained to both how much and how often a given substance was consumed.91. respectively. Here again.7) Note. The students each had to state whether.9% of the latter had been involved in bullying (Table 10). The difference between special education and regular schooling was significant: χ2(3)=13. respectively. and illegal drugs.1) Bully/victims 07 (7. Post-traumatic stress. The overall score combining the three subscales thus ranged between 0 and 85. 54 (77. Results We can see that the special-ed students were more involved in bullying than students in regular schools ( χ 2 =13. p<. verbal.82. Fifty percent of the former had committed aggressive acts and/or been victimized. a scale of aggressive acts executed and received. an addictive behavior scale.6) 05 (7. giving a total score between 0 and 40. tobacco. . and . how many cigarettes do you smoke per week?” The tobacco subscale consisted of six items. In our study. Intrusion is assessed on seven items. The addictive behavior scale was derived from Currie and Hurreman’s (2000) “Health Behavior in School Aged Children Survey”.87 and . by bullying status and schooling (regular schooling versus special education).655. df=3. on a fifteen-item subscale (total score: 0-40). such as “If you smoke. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 197 Measures Four scales were used to test our hypotheses: a self-concept assessment scale.

05 Athletic competence 2. p=NS). p<.60.55. p<.794.538. p=NS). SD=0. However.60. whether for the father (t(160)=0.4%) and 34 girls (46.98.8%) obtained a high post- traumatic stress level. students whose father was a craftsman. or in one of the liberal professions obtained lower average scores on the aggressive-acts-executed scale (m=1.964. this difference was no longer found on the scale of aggressive acts received (t(160)=-1. Table 11 Mean score (and standard deviation) of students who had/had not experienced an event they remembered vividly. were you the victim of one or more aggressive acts by your classmate(s) that you left a marked impression on you?” To this question.57. shop owner.19.20 (0.061. A majority of these students (65. p=NS). athletic abilities (t(143)=-1. These differences did not occur for scholastic competence (t(143)=-1. manager. social competence (special m=2. and global self-worth (t(143)=-2.20.05). SD=0.62) p<. regular m=2. p=NS). However.79 (0. p<.084.79. this finding was not obtained for the mother’s occupational category (t(160)=-0. 73 said they had undergone at least one aggressive act that they remembered vividly. SD=0.6)0 2. regular m=2.60 (0.6%).787. SD=0. These occupation-related differences did not show up in the aggressive-acts-received scores. p<. and self-control (special m=2. athletic competence (special m=2. We can see that students who reported having undergone a particularly impactful act of aggression had poorer self-concepts on several dimensions. p=NS) or the mother (t(160)=1. p=NS). these differences were not obtained for appearance (t(160)=0.72) 3.01). or unemployed (m=2. head of a firm.59) than did regular- school students (m=1.01 Out of the 145 students tested.11 (0. p<. However.73.55. retired. p<. or physical appearance (t(143)=-1.56) p<. 42 special-ed students and 31 regular- school students answered “yes”.948. p<.74) 2. This was true of scholastic competence (special m=2. SD=0.53. This portion of the sample included 39 boys (53. regular m=3. Self-concept Setting aside other considerations.8% had an intermediate level. t(160)=-2. C. t (160)=2. THUILLIER.77 (0. Also. SD=0.05). & E.025.78 (0.59. Note that 17 students were removed from the sample for having experienced impactful events that were unrelated to our theme (death.45) than did the adolescents whose father was a laborer. but there was no significant .57) p<. SD=0.60 (0.82.277.59) (t(160)=2. SD=0. by self-concept dimension Bullied (n=73) Not Bullied (n=72) p Scholastic competence 2.108. regular m=2.914. SD=0.91.05). Post-traumatic stress “This year.66) NS Conduct 2.198 B. HOUBRE.670.69.902. t(160)=2. 17. an employee.53) 2.12.61 (0. HERGOTT This finding was further supported by the fact that special-ed students obtained a higher mean score on the scale of aggressive acts executed (m=2.05 Global self-worth 2.67.074.572. conduct (t(143)=-2.05).67 (0. p=NS).56. SD=0. it is interesting to note that the special-ed students obtained a lower score than the regular-school students on several dimensions of the self- concept.70.92. relational problems with an adult). a farmer. t(160)=2.67.01) (Table 11).66) NS Physical appearance 2.853.01). namely: social competence (t(143)=-2.261.74) 2.048. p<.94 (0.05). p=NS) or global self-worth (t(160)=1. t(160)=2. TARQUINIO. I. p=NS). SD=0.2% a low level.01).84 (0.88 (0. p<.67) 3. SD=0.57) NS Social competence 2. and 8.

579** .013).299.25. nor did the time lapse between being bullied and filling out the questionnaires (F(3. Linear regressions supported this finding (tobacco β=.to 15-year-olds obtained mean scores that dropped as their age rose (age 12 n=10.178* .227** -.190** 1.05). p<. there were strong positive intercorrelations between the consumption of alcohol.01).31.00 Bully -.441** -. the type of aggression had no effect on post-traumatic stress (F(2.025. p<. p<. p=NS.18.00 Tot. R2=.107* . p=NS). Intrusive thoughts (β=. drugs β=-.304** -.16.404** -.01). alcohol β=.00 Tobacco -.348** 1.244** . intrusion behaviors were positively correlated with being bullied (r=.112** -. SD=14. Similar associations were observed with the conduct dimension. p<. and drugs (Table 12).27.31) and 64 (age 17 n=1).70)=0.00 Social -.147.075** -.410** -.509** -. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 199 difference between the mean post-traumatic stress scores obtained by the two genders (t(71)=0.00 Self-worth -.282** -.157** -. m=29.006** -. Aggressive behavior was positively correlated with addictive behavior in general (r=. p<.36.10.05) in particular.01. Moreover.01.71. SD=21.039** -. R2=.283** -.20.3% (n=44). SD=19. However. the bullying was verbal in 16.67)=2.818** . p=NS).70). p=NS).034** -.05).96 (age 16 n=12. p<.383** -. relational in 23.23. with the post-traumatic stress level tending to be linked to being victimized (r=. As predicted. The older students (ages 16 and 17) obtained mean scores of 34.20. SD=23.64).05. The 12. Note also that each of the addictive-behavior variables correlated negatively with the school dimension.030** -.05.01).226** -.499** 1.052).258** -.64).16.16.69)=4.08. Linear regressions on post-traumatic stress level and being victimized also yielded a number of tendencies.862. Note also that post-traumatic stress was negatively correlated with global self-worth (r=-.217** -.032.078* .05). p<.145** 1. R2=. the special-ed students and the ones attending regular schools did not differ significantly on . age 15 n=19.049** -.18.159** 1.00 Drugs -. m=18.41.295** -.259** -.00 Athletic -. Conduct Self-worth Bully Victim Tobacco Alcohol Drugs Addictions School 1. p<.00 Conduct -.812** 1. drugs β=. m=34.049. and physical in 60. Contrary to our hypothesis.00 Note.38.228** -. R2=. However.00 Appearance -.441. drugs (r=.154* -. p<.091** -. More specifically. R2=.20.01).64. Regressions on the various types of substances pointed in the same direction (tobacco β=.20. a negative correlation was found between being victimized and alcohol consumption (r=-. R2=. there was no significant difference between the regular-school and special-ed students as far as post-traumatic stress was concerned (t(71)=-0.053) and post-traumatic stress level ( β =. followed by victims (m=20.158** -.598** -. p<.077** -. p=NS. age 14 n=20. p<. SD=12. **p<.418** -.42.31.044** -.121** -.01) but not to avoidance behaviors (r=-.311** -. age 13 n=11.006.346** 1.130** -.193** 1. Regarding the type of aggression.211** -.487** 1.099** -. SD=23.094** -.00 Alcohol -. the post-traumatic stress level depended on the student’s bullying status (F(3.311** -. self-worth was linked to intrusive thoughts (r=-.62. p<.844** . and alcohol (r=.006). addictions -.38. p<. In addition.10). Substance use In general. tobacco.69)=0. m=27.076** -. p<.23. this effect no longer occurred for avoidance behaviors ( β=.626** -. alcohol β=-.10.187** -.01.4% of the cases (n=12).855. R 2 =.75. p<.05. Among the 73 students who had been victims of one or more impactful bullying events.059** -.015** -.3% (n=17).81.168** -.00.497** -. p<.029) tended to be positively affected by the extent of victimization.092** -. Table 12 Correlation Matrix (n=162) School Social Athletic Appearan.282** -.004* 1. Students who were both victims and bullies had the highest level (m=27. R2=. SD=15.005** -. the student’s age did have an effect (F(5.998. p<. and with smoking (r=. *p<.119** -. R2=.80.00 Victim -.01). p=NS). However.265** 1. p=NS). p=NS.

I. unlike earlier studies where girls were shown to be more severely affected than boys (Shannon. 1984. Many studies have already established the link between poverty and violence (Byrne et al. their self-concept was poorer. 2001).356. C. Poor living conditions are known to constitute a powerful explanatory factor in the appearance of violent behavior (Reid. This was true for tobacco (t(71)=-1. however. We can assume that their age.. Concerning substance use (alcohol. which supports the findings of many past studies (Jind. 1975). avoidance was not. social competence. which showed that substance use was particularly prevalent among bullies and bully/victims. the more the adolescents had thoughts or nightmares related to being bullied. Furthermore. It is interesting to note that while intrusion was negatively linked to self-worth. The first concerns the fact that the psycho-stimulating effect of nicotine is . having an unemployed parent (May. More specifically. no link was found between post-traumatic stress level and substance use. p=NS). 2001). no schooling-related differences were found. Cowie. 1984) all add up to increasing the likelihood of aggressive behavior. it seems that the consumption of any one of these substances generally leads to the use of the other two. But we also noted that the parents of these adolescents were from a lower social class than those of regular-school students. Such differences are known to exist at the intercultural level (Fraczek. and self-control). 1980. & E. or simply being from the lower class (Reid. In various areas (scholastic competence. that the higher the level of intrusive thoughts. and drugs (t(71)=1. HOUBRE. Here again. Moreover. & Kunst. 1970) – depending on the culture or social group in which they are expressed. Tibbenheim. as reported in the case study by Weaver (2000). In special schools. Finch. athletic abilities. avoidance of anxiety-generating stimuli in the face of bullying may play a protective role (Naylor. Age appears to have an impact too.200 B. a testimony to the fact that they were lagging behind in school. with younger students being affected more than older ones. Wissenschaft. & Majoux. p=NS). & Taylor. 1994). although there was a positive correlation between intrusions and tobacco consumption (r=. first of all. various forms of aggression are tolerated to a greater or lesser extent. post-traumatic stress was highly linked to low self-worth. bullying was associated with intrusive thoughts. cited by Funk. In addition. Lagerspetz & Westman. Lonigan. more acts of aggression may be committed. Note. was an indication of deficient cognitive development. Two possible hypotheses can be set forth to account for this addiction. our 16. 1985. Tomlinson. We can hypothesize that social norms about aggressive behaviors account for this difference.05). & Rey del. in line with the observations made here. Agou. the greater their tendency to smoke.387. 1985). Thus. Note in addition that the victims of aggression exhibited a higher level of post-traumatic stress (“prolonged duress stress disorder”) than the rest of the sample. This finding is particularly interesting since it means that even though the special-ed students were more involved in bullying. 1994. 1977). they apparently did not suffer greater consequences than the students attending regular schools. Another result obtained here was the lack of a significant difference between the two schooling groups on the impact of bullying (post-traumatic stress). alcohol (t(71)=0. as expected. However. Moreover. Thus. or drugs). According to professionals who work in this field. TARQUINIO. we found no gender-linked differences. that special-education students had more identity problems than students enrolled in regular schools.28. 2001). the greater the consumption of tobacco.686. but they may also be accepted better. victimization tended to be associated with greater post-traumatic stress. the special-ed students were found to be more involved in bullying than the students attending regular schools. This finding is in line with Kaltiala-Heino’s (2000) study. HERGOTT substance use. However. McLloyd. Discussion of Study 3 This study revealed. we did not find a positive link between addictive behavior and being victimized. smoking and taking drugs were linked to committing aggressive acts. Unexpectedly. 1990). tobacco. p=NS). these students are highly stigmatized and have a hard time accepting that they must go to a special school (Coslin. However. p<. 1999.and 17-year-olds were also highly affected by bullying. THUILLIER. Living in a cramped home (Kultus.

Funk and Passenbergen (1999. Thus. the most probable explanation is certainly a combination of the two. the Léon Report in France indicated that the risk of violence is greater in large schools. Olweus. where our figures were lower than those obtained elsewhere. a bully. somatic pain. and in Study 3. cited by Karatzias. However. These mixed effects (the impression of increased productivity followed by the appearance of a sense of well-being) can only contribute to making the smoker more dependent. smoking may restore a child’s social image and thereby sporadically reinforce a failing level of self-esteem. Based on Study 1. However. As shown in earlier work. However. the proportion was nearly 49%. Indeed. BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND HEALTH 201 comparable to that of amphetamines. leader. once again. followed by victims and then bullies. Bully/victims seem. bullying can vary considerably from one school to the next. Class size also seems to have an impact. 1991. a direct causal relation cannot be . In addition.. to be the most highly affected (mainly by neurovegetative disorders. this cannot be said for Study 1. General discussion These three studies showed that the implications of bullying are numerous and varied. although we showed that being a victim of aggression could play a critical role in a child’s sense of self-worth. This helps account for the variations observed in the manifestation of psychosomatic symptoms. At the same time. the question that arose was the direction of the link between the self-concept and the different possible statuses of the child in the bullying phenomenon. as observed in England (Wolke. Study 3 on middle school students showed that bully/victims and victims exhibited high post-traumatic stress levels.g. and physical traits like strong) than to other traits. there is a certain predisposition to being a victim. it was about 38%. Study 2 showed that students involved in bullying may have health problems too. seem to suffer in particular from cognitive difficulties. This discrepancy seems to be due to environmental factors. behavioral problems appeared in all three status groups (in the following decreasing order: bully/victims. risky behaviors such as substance use are attempts at maintaining a satisfactory level of self-esteem. especially psychosomatic symptoms. as Carra and Sicot (1997) showed. Power. and bullies). In fact. it seems that the children who suffer the most from intrusions related to being bullied are the ones to smoke the most. on the other hand. addiction may help a child strengthen his/her sense of self-worth. The most commonly mentioned factor is size. we can assume that when the well-being of adolescents is threatened in upsetting situations (like being bullied). and that there tends to be a positive correlation between being victimized and post-traumatic stress. A link was also found between the child’s bullying status and behavioral problems. Victims. in Study 2. bullies have digestive and neurovegetative disorders.. Environmental factors in this case refer to physical characteristics of the school likely to favor the emergence of aggressive behavior (Ahmad et al. 2001). victims. Woods. According to some authors (Aubert. and skin conditions). Indeed. As early as 1983. 2001) showed that the smaller the student-to-teacher ratio. In Study 1. other studies suggest that children who belong to small classes are more often subjected to bullying. since different populations were studied. The figures for Study 2 are comparable to those obtained in research on elementary school pupils. nearly 39% of the children were involved in bullying. extroverted. it seems that bully/victims have the lowest opinions of themselves. Standford. As usual. We also know that children attach more importance to traits that characterize them as bullies (e. or even a bully/victim. 2002). digestive problems. repeated harassment by peers can considerably reinforce feelings of distress. & Shulz. lack of self- confidence. traits of temperament like impulsive. As Peele (1985) suggested. the fewer the acts of aggression. conceited. 2001. cited by Funk. The other hypothesis concerns the psychosocial dimension of cigarette smoking. & Swanson. so high doses have a relaxing and euphoric effect. and low self-esteem in victims. 1978). The prevalence of bullying differed in the three studies conducted here.

anyone striving to reduce bullying in the schools should take the wide range of factors underlying its occurrence into account. cognitively. Why? One hypothesis is related to the characteristics of the population. Through the mechanism of cumulative continuity. and/or behaviourally disadvantaged students were also lagging behind in the development of social competence and abilities. Kaukiainen et al. In regular schools. particularly for the bully/victim role. we can assume that the various symptoms exhibited by these children are interdependent. So the phenomenon we observed was essentially a decrease in direct aggression in regular middle school students and “stabilization” of direct aggression among students attending a special school. for regular-school students there was indeed a decline in bullying with age. This is especially important for these children.. Laukkanen et al. Moreover. Furthermore. as already shown in some studies (Kaltiala-Heino et al. Bank. A gradual drop in bullying with age was observed by Olweus (1984) and other investigators. Lagerspetz. the reason given by the authors for the decrease is that bullying in fact changes in nature over the years. 1992). 2000. 1992). However. & Kaukiainen. whereas older ones prefer more relational. these socioeconomically. 1996. TARQUINIO.. and in doing so. Reciprocal interactions like these are thought to prevent the situation from changing (Ensminger. cited by Eslea & Rees. as already observed elsewhere. indirect and relational aggressions cannot be executed unless the child has some awareness of. and 14-year-old age groups between indirect aggressive acts and social intelligence. manipulate the mental states and beliefs of others (Björkqvitz. 12-. to take a more in-depth approach to child behavior. 1995). However. Rivers & Smith. 1992. 1983). Notes 1 The special-education children were in a “SEGPA” school – Section for General Occupational and Adapted Teaching. In addition. it would seem worthwhile in future research to address the issue of the specific characteristics of each bullying status examined here. Certain studies suggest that in large schools where supervision is not as great. the “deviant” child is likely to adopt another “deviant” behavior such as substance use. this figure jumped to 50%. the relationships between psychosomatic symptoms. substance use. with whom they feel little closeness or connectedness (Bowers et al. & Slusarcick. whereas in special-education schools. 2001. Whitney & Smith. Thus. To conclude. . so that an effective investigation can be conducted and conclusive results can be obtained. As stressed above. Indeed. HOUBRE. & E. C. HERGOTT established between these factors and the emergence of aggressive behavior. both anonymity and size may be risk factors in the emergence of aggressive behavior at school. In this case. (1999) found a positive correlation in 8-. once again. the distribution we obtained was different for the two types of schools studied. and ability to. 1994) have shown that younger children more often resort to direct forms of aggression. Crick & Grotpeter. Several studies (Owens. The results of Study 3 are inconsistent. only about 23% of the students were involved in bullying. psychosomatic symptoms) called “cumulative continuity” (Brook & Newcomb. but not when the aggressions were physical or verbal. This type of “interactional continuity” refers to the effects of reciprocal interactions between an individual and his/her environment. and aggression are interactive. who showed that bullying declined and finally disappeared altogether at the age of 16 (Elsea & Smith. & Paterson. This overall effect did not occur in our third study. 1992). substance use. in some cases. who cannot seek the necessary support from parents or siblings. Henceforth. so that recourse to indirect forms of aggression could not emerge until later. with those of earlier work. we found a link between the type of bullying and social cognition skills. This interaction style prompts the individual to choose and create an environment that will reinforce that style.. 1994. THUILLIER. and that this leads to a cumulative effect (aggressive behavior. The bullying scale we used only assessed direct forms of aggression (physical and verbal). indirect forms. 1993). 1995). Clearly. I.202 B. it is more difficult to find out who is at fault (Léon. such as the link between aggressive acts and substance use (Vuchinick. since bullying was more prevalent in our study. 2002).

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N.sha.fr Current theme of research: School bullying. B. UFR SHA.. 77-105). C.fr. & Romary. Most relevant publications in the field of psychology of education: Emmanuelle Hergott. The self-schema and addictive behaviors: Studies of alcoholic patients.N.. J. Self-concept. Health. Ile du Saulcy. Isabelle Thuillier.. THUILLIER. Compliance et concept de soi chez des patients atteints par le VIH: Une approche dynamique du soi. E-mail: barbara_houbre@hotmail.). Web site: www. 117-129. 45 route de Metzvisse. (2001). & Somat. TARQUINIO. Value systems and coping.. and normative clearsightedness.fr Current theme of research: School bullying and self-schemata. G. Exclusion. V. B. Paris: Dunod. 21-54.N. Therapeutic compliance and HIV. Swiss Journal of Psychology. E-mail: tarquinio@univ-metz. G. 60(2). (2001). Fischer. 136-160.. Therapeutic compliance methodologies in HIV-Infection treatment: A comparative study. France. 57000 Metz. A. University of Metz. C. Most relevant publications in the field of psychology of education: Tarquinio. Dodeler. Tarquinio. In G. HERGOTT Key words: Addictive behavior. (2003). Behavioral problems. Department of Psychology. Fischer (Ed. Fischer. (2001). European Journal of Psychology of Education. 57100 Thionville. Les violences scolaires. C. Tarquinio. Fischer. Tarquinio.. C. A. 16(1).. Self-schemata. Psychologie des violences sociales (pp. Gauchet.. 57000 Metz. & Fischer. & Tarquinio. C. E-mail: hergott_emma@hotmail. 57310 Guénange. E-mail: picln@procie. 60(3). & Perarnaud. France. Ile du Saulcy. I. & E. Web site: www. HOUBRE. (2003). G.fr Current theme of research: Self-schemata and health. Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale. Received: April 2004 Revision received: December 2005 Barbara Houbre. 73-81. Cyril Tarquinio. Adaptation and coping. A.univ-metz. Swiss Journal of Psychology.. Scholastic achievement. C.-N.com .. Centre Educatif et de Formation Professionnelle Charles Thilmont (CEFP). School bullying. 68 rue Sainte Elisabeth. XVI(1). University of Metz UFR SHA. Grégoire. Most relevant publications in the field of psychology of education: Houbre.. France.com. Laboratory of Psychology. Gauchet.univ-metz. University of Metz. Post-traumatic stress. France.208 B. A.. G. academic self-schemata.