Longitudinal Effects from Childhood Abuse to Bullying Perpetration in Adolescence: The Role of Mental Health and Social Problems.

Document Type


Publication Date



Child and Family Studies


Bullying has attracted increased attention due to the serious implications for perpetrators, victims, and schools. Recent studies have sought to identify factors that may contribute to bullying perpetration, and child abuse has been identified as one such factor. The mediating processes linking child abuse to bullying perpetration, however, are not well understood. The current study explored adolescent mental health problems, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress disorder, and poor social skills as pathways between childhood abuse and adolescent bullying perpetration. Data for the current study are from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. The current study utilized a longitudinal and multi-informant design in which adolescents reported their history of childhood abuse, mental health problems, and social skills when they were 12 years old; bullying perpetration was reported by adolescent’s teachers when adolescents were 12 and 14. Results indicated childhood abuse was associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, anger, dissociation, posttraumatic stress, and poor social skills. Only anxiety and poor social skills at age 12 were significantly associated with bullying perpetration when adolescents when were 14. Bootstrapped indirect effects from childhood abuse to bullying perpetration were significant for both anxiety and poor social skills, indicating full mediation. Addressing anxiety and poor social skills in early adolescence among children who have been abused may prevent bullying perpetration in mid-adolescence. Clinicians, teachers, and school administrators may desire to focus efforts on reducing anxiety and increasing social skills to mitigate bullying perpetration.

Publication Title

Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma



First Page


Last Page


Find in your library