Morbidities associated with bullying behaviors in adolescents. School based study of American adolescents

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2006 Oct-Dec;18(4):587-96. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2006.18.4.587.


To assess the prevalence of bullying behaviors and morbidities, including overweight/obesity and frequent physical and emotional symptoms, and the associations between such morbidities and frequent involvement in bullying behaviors among US adolescents in grades 6 through 10.

Design, setting, and participants: This study was based on an analysis of US data from the 1998 World Health Organization Health Behavior in School-aged Children survey. The survey provides nationally representative, cross-sectional survey information on 15,686 US students in grades 6 through 10.

Outcome measures: Involvement in bullying as a victim and/or as a bully; body mass index; and self-reported headaches, stomachaches, backaches, dizziness, irritability, "feeling low", "feeling nervous", and sleeping difficulties.

Results: Fifteen per cent of the students were involved in bullying others and/or were victims of bullies at least once a week. The bullying activities took place both at school and elsewhere. Students who suffered from at least one or more frequent physical or emotional symtom, occuring several times a week, were at 2.4 to 3.5 times more likely to be involved in frequent bullying incidents, as compared to students, who did not experience frequent symptoms.

Conclusions: The present study confirmed that frequent participation in bullying behaviors, as a bully, a victim, or both, was associated with poor health status. The existence of a morbidity spectrum associated with participation in bullying behaviors is important information for pediatric practice and merits further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression*
  • Child
  • Crime Victims*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood
  • Male
  • Morbidity*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Students
  • United States / epidemiology