Early risk factors for joint trajectories of bullying victimisation and perpetration
Chow ARW., Pingault J-B., Baldwin JR.
AbstractBullying victimisation is a prevalent stressor associated with serious health problems. To inform intervention strategies, it is important to understand children’s patterns of involvement in bullying victimisation and perpetration across development, and identify early risk factors for these developmental trajectories. We analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study (N = 14,525; 48.6% female, 82.6% White), a representative birth cohort of British children born in 2000–2002 across the UK. Bullying victimisation and perpetration were assessed via child, mother, and teacher reports at ages 5, 7, 11, and 14 years. Early risk factors (child emotional, cognitive, and physical vulnerabilities, and adverse family environments) were assessed at ages 9 months, 3, and 5 years. Using k-means for longitudinal data, we identified five joint trajectories of victimisation and perpetration across ages 5, 7, 11, and 14: uninvolved children (59.78%), early child victims (9.96%), early adolescent victims (15.07%), early child bullies (8.01%), and bully- victims (7.19%). Individual vulnerabilities (e.g., emotional dysregulation, cognitive difficulties) and adverse family environments (maternal psychopathology, low income) in pre-school years independently forecast multiple trajectories of bullying involvement. Compared to victims, bully-victims were more likely to be male, have cognitive difficulties, and experience harsh discipline and low income. Interventions addressing these risk factors (e.g., via accessible mental health care, stigma-based interventions, or programs to support low-income families) may help to prevent bullying involvement and its associated sequelae.