Bullying in early adolescence and its association with anti-social behaviour, criminality and violence 6 and 10 years later

Crim Behav Ment Health. 2011 Apr;21(2):117-27. doi: 10.1002/cbm.805.


Background: Few longitudinal studies have examined the links between engagement in bullying and later anti-social behaviour for both males and females.

Aims: This study aimed to examine the association between adolescent bullying behaviour and subsequent anti-social behaviour, among a community sample of Australian males and females.

Methods: Regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between bullying perpetration at age 13-14 and anti-social behaviour, criminal violence and contact with police or courts 6 and 10 years later among approximately 800 young adults participating in a 27-year longitudinal study. The analyses controlled for known risk factors for anti-social behaviour at age 13-14 years.

Results: Moderate significant associations were found between bullying perpetration and subsequent anti-social behaviour. Associations were more powerful for males than females, and for short-term than long-term outcomes. Engagement in bullying remained a significant predictor of later anti-social behaviour and contact with police or courts even after other risk factors were accounted for.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that bullying in adolescence may be a marker of risk for a continuing pattern of anti-social behaviour, particularly among young males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Behavior*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult