Childhood bullies and victims and their risk of criminality in late adolescence: the Finnish From a Boy to a Man study

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Jun;161(6):546-52. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.6.546.


Objective: To study correlations of childhood bullying and victimization with juvenile criminality.

Design: Longitudinal birth cohort study from age 8 years to ages 16 to 20 years.

Setting: Population-based study from Finland.

Participants: The sample comprised 2551 boys (86.6% of the original birth cohort) with complete information about bullying and victimization from parents, teachers, and children at age 8 years.

Main outcome measure: Information about criminal offenses from the National Police Register at ages 16 to 20 years.

Results: Frequent bullies and those who frequently both bullied and were bullied (8.8% of the sample) were responsible for 33.0% of all juvenile crimes during the 4-year study period. Frequent bully-only status predicted both occasional and repeated offending, whereas bully-victim status predicted repeated offending. Bullying predicted most types of crime (violence, property, drunk driving, and traffic offenses) when controlled with parental education level. However, frequent bullies or victims without a high level of psychiatric symptoms were not at an elevated risk for later criminality.

Conclusions: Boys who frequently bully are at risk for later criminality when this condition is accompanied by a high level of psychiatric symptoms. Frequent bullies should be actively screened for psychiatric problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Agonistic Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents