Bullying Involvement and Adverse Childhood Events: Should We be Concerned?




Maskey, Smriti
Shrestha, Nistha
Nandy, Rajesh


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PURPOSE: Bullying is one of the public health priorities in the United States. While most of the current literature focuses on the relationship between school environment and bullying involvement, research shows that adverse child events play an important role in developing bullying behavior. Hence the aim of this study is to examine if adverse child events increase the likelihood of bullying involvement among children aged 6-17 years. METHODS: The National Child Health Survey (NCHS) data from 2016 was used in this study. The survey included a total of 50,212 participants, who were chosen by the household at random. Eight questions from the NCHS 2016 survey related to adverse childhood experiences were used for this study. The bullying involvement was studied in terms of being bullied and bullying others. RESULTS: A logistic regression analysis was conducted after adjusting for all the variables of interest. Presence of adverse childhood events such as past racial or ethnic discrimination showed a statistically significant increase in the tendency to be victims of bullying others (OR=2.30, CI=2.00-2.60). History of the child experiencing domestic violence showed an increase in the tendency of bullying others (OR=2.05, CI=1.71-2.46) and the tendency of being bullied (OR=1.76, CI=1.55-2.00). History of living with mentally ill caregiver showed a protective effect against being bullied (OR=0.54, CI=0.50-0.60) & bullying others (OR=0.66, CI=0.55-0.73). CONCLUSION: The results indicate that the presence of adverse childhood events increases the likelihood of bullying involvement. More research should be conducted to strengthen this relationship. In order to address bullying at large, screening for adverse childhood events should be conducted and counseling should be provided.