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Understanding social inequalities in children being bullied: UK Millennium Cohort Study findings

Campbell, M; Straatmann, VS; Lai, ETC; Potier, J; Pereira, SMP; Wickham, SL; Taylor-Robinson, DC; (2019) Understanding social inequalities in children being bullied: UK Millennium Cohort Study findings. PLoS One , 14 (5) , Article e0217162. 10.1371/journal.pone.0217162. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Children living in disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances (SEC) are more commonly victims of bullying, but pathways leading to social inequalities in being bullied are unclear. We assess how early life risk factors might mediate the increased risk of being bullied at age seven for children living in disadvantaged circumstances. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Using data from 5,857 children in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) we calculate risk ratios (RR) for being bullied at age seven (child-reported), by household income quintile. Socially patterned risk factors for being bullied relating to social networks, family relationships and child characteristics from birth to age five were adjusted for to assess if they mediated any association between SEC and being bullied. RESULTS: 48.6% of children reported having been bullied. Children living in the lowest income households were at 20% greater risk of being bullied compared to those from the highest (RR1.20, 95%CI 1.06,1.36). Controlling for social networks, family relationships and child characteristics attenuated the increased risk for children in low income households to aRR 1.19 (95%CI 1.05, 1.35), aRR 1.16 (95%CI 1.02,1.32) and aRR 1.13 (95%CI 1.00,1.28) respectively. Our final model adjusted for risk factors across all domains attenuated the RR by 45% (aRR 1.11,95%CI 0.97,1.26). CONCLUSIONS: About half of children reported being bullied by age seven with a clear social gradient. The excess risk in children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances was partially explained by differences in their early years relating to their social network, family relationships and the child’s own abilities and behaviours. Policies to reduce inequalities in these risk factors may also reduce inequalities in the risk of being bullied in childhood.

Type: Article
Title: Understanding social inequalities in children being bullied: UK Millennium Cohort Study findings
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217162
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217162
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 Campbell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Children, Behavior, Parenting behavior, Schools, Social networks, Human families, Medical risk factors, Cohort studies
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076228
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