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Shojaei , T., Wazana, A., Pitrou, I., Gilbert, F., & Kovess, V. (2009). Self-reported peer victimization and child mental health: Results of a cross-sectional survey among French primary school children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 30,300-309.

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One of the most widely used definition of bullying is provided by Olweus-“A person is bullied when he/she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more persons.’’ Bullying predicts concurrent and future psychiatric symptoms into adulthood. The prevalence of bullying ranges from 9% to 54%. The current study aims to estimate the prevalence of self-reported bullying among a sample of school-aged children, to identify the correlates of bullying, and to examine the parent-reported health care services’ use.

Method: 99 schools in France were selected to participate with 25 children (6-11 years old) per school. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was given to the parents, and the Dominic Interactive was given to the students. The Dominic Interactive is a self-report survey for young children based on 91 cartoons, which generate probability diagnosis for seven mental health disorders: specific phobia, major depressive disorder, separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. To assess the bullying, three additional drawings with three questions were used; have you ever been physically attacked, have you ever had your belongings taken away by force, and do you fear being attacked? were the questions utilized. Four categories were derived: assaulted and scared (yes to 1 or 2, yes to 3), assaulted and not scared (yes to 1 or 2, no to 3), scared not assaulted (no to 1 or 2, yes to 3), and not scared not assaulted (no to 1 or 2, no to 3). Child psychopathology was assessed by parents using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Children’s contacts with mental health professionals and physicians in the past year were assessed with the questionnaire of the parents.

Results: The prevalence of children being bullied was 21% whereas the prevalence of children of being assaulted, not scared, or scared, not assaulted was 19.6% and 19.7%. Young age (6-8), male gender, low family income and parental education, parental unemployment, urban setting, and disadvantaged school area were the main characteristics significantly associated with peer victimization. The correlates for being bullied were 6-8 years old, chronic illness, internalizing psychopathologies, and peer relationship difficulties. Mental health professional were accessed by 11.2% of children. Access to physicians was less frequent for those who were bullied.

Discussion: Peer victimizations starts at a really young age. A study by Kim et al. suggested that psychopathology, including social problems, aggression, and externalizing problems was a consequence of bullying. Victim-perpetrator children have a greater risk of developing multiple psychopathologies, including those with conduct and anxiety disorders. Despite its correlates with mental health, bullying was not associated with higher mental health services.