The relationship between bullying and trauma among adolescent male learners.
MetadataShow full item record
Aim: This study investigated the nature and extent of the relationship between bullying and trauma among male adolescent learners. Trauma was operationalised through the constructs of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, dissociation and anger. In addition the study aimed to determine the prevalence and forms of bullying with reference to the different bullying roles (the bully, the victim, the bully-victim and the bystander). Method: In this quantitative study, two objective measures were administered (viz., the Olweus Bullying/Victimisation Scale and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for children) to a saturation sample of male adolescent learners between the ages of 12 and 17, from a purposively selected South African male-only high school (N=509). Findings and Conclusions: Statistical analysis (correlational analyis, MANOVA, and Binary-Logistic Regression analysis) produced evidence to suggest that there is a statistically significant relationship between bullying and trauma, and this was strongest for the victim role. The relationship between bullying and trauma was dependent on the frequency of bullying; as the frequency of being bullied increased so too did the mean scores of all the five trauma subscales. Depression demonstrated the highest correlation with the victim role, followed by Posttraumatic stress. In addition, 22.4% of learners could be clinically and subclinically diagnosed with posttraumatic stress and 21.0% with dissociation. The study suggests that each learner has a subjective experience of bullying, and accordingly displays different symptom profiles. Overall, the findings corroborate the argument that repetitive stressful events (such as bullying) are predictive of symptom-clusters of ongoing trauma. The subjective experience of bullying was also evident in the prevalence rates of bullying; as these were evidently dependent on how it was defined and understood by learners. While only 32.1% of learners admitted to being bullied; 60.2% of this same sample admitted experiencing at least one form of bullying listed in the questionnaire; and similarly, while only 29.8% of learners admitted to bullying other learners; 49.0% admitted participating in at least one form of bullying listed in the questionnaire. Chronic bullying demonstrated greater levels of trauma for all 5 subscales; 19.7% of learners had experienced weekly (or chronic) bullying and 12.3% had participated in chronic bullying. A range of policy, school-specific and research recommendations are offered based on the findings of the study.