Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder among targets of school bullying

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Background: The aim of this study was to investigate whether bullying among students is associated with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and whether associations are comparable to other traumatic events leading to PTSD. Methods: Data were collected from 219 German children and adolescents: 150 students from grade six to ten and 69 patients from an outpatient clinic for PTSD as a comparison group. Symptoms of PTSD were assessed using the Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale (CRIES) and the Posttraumatic Symptom Scale (PTSS-10). A 2 × 5 factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) with the factors gender (male, female) and group (control, conflict, moderate bullying, severe bullying, traumatized) was used to test for significant differences in reported PTSD symptoms. Results: Results showed that 69 (46.0%) students from the school sample had experienced bullying, 43 (28.7%) in a moderate and 26 (17.3%) in a severe way. About 50% of the severe bullying group reached the critical cut-off point for suspected PTSD. While the scores for symptoms of PTSD were significantly higher in bullied versus non-bullied students, no significant differences were found between patients from the PTSD clinic and students who experienced severe bullying. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that bullying at school is highly associated with symptoms of PTSD. Thus, prevention of bullying in school may reduce traumatic experiences and consequent PTSD development.




Ossa, F. C., Pietrowsky, R., Bering, R., & Kaess, M. (2019). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder among targets of school bullying. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 13(1).

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