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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board Member: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Furniss, Tilman / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie

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Is there a syndrome of bullying?

1 / Thomas Piazza2

1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA

2Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Corresponding author: Jorge Srabstein, MD, Medical Director, Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying, Children’s National Medical Center, Montgomery County Outpatient Regional Center, 9850 Key West Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850, USA

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 91–96, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, ISSN (Print) 0334-0139, DOI: 10.1515/ijamh.2012.013, December 2011

Publication History

Received:
2011-06-15
Revised:
2011-08-28
Accepted:
2011-09-06
Published Online:
2011-12-09

Abstract

Objective: We investigated the existence of a psychosomatic disorder associated with bullying by delineating its health and safety and correlates, and defining the demographic characteristics of the USA adolescents affected by this condition.

Methods: This study was based on an analysis of USA data from the 1996 World Health Organization Health Behavior in School-aged Children survey. The survey provides nationally-representative, cross-sectional survey information on 9938 USA students in Grades 6–10. We examined those students who were involved in bullying as a victim and/or as a bully, with or without a self-reported cluster of depression, “bad mood”, “feeling low”, “feeling nervous” and sleeping difficulties, and one or more physical symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, back aches, dizziness).

Results: A cluster of physical and emotional symptoms linked to their participation in bullying as bullies and/or victims was reported by 9.5% of adolescents, with a higher frequency of 8th Grade students and a predominance of females. These students were 8.14 times more likely to hurt themselves on purpose and 4.20 times more likely to hurt others purposely than their peers who were not involved in bullying and did not suffer from a cluster of physical and emotional symptoms.

Conclusions: This study may elicit further examination and debate about the existence of a nosological entity linked to bullying. Pending further research, the present results should support the need to ascertain participation in bullying, as a bully and/or as a victim, in all pediatric visits. Furthermore, there is a need to enquire about symptoms and risks related to this form of abuse.

Keywords: bullying; health; school; USA

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