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


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.

SUBMITTER: Campbell M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6541267 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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