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Lonely in the crowd: recollections of bullying

Schäfer, Mechthild and Korn, Stefan and Smith, Peter K. and Hunter, Simon C. and Mora-Merchán, Joaqún A. and Singer, Monika M. and van der Meulen, Kevin (2004) Lonely in the crowd: recollections of bullying. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22 (3). pp. 379-394. ISSN 0261-510X

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This study examined the long-term correlates of victimization in school with aspects of functioning in adult life, using a specially designed Retrospective Bullying Questionnaire, which also included questions about short-term effects (e. g. suicidal ideation and intrusive memories) and victimization experiences in adulthood. Current relationship quality was assessed in terms of self-perception, attachment style and friendship quality. In total, 884 adults (35% male) from two occupations (teacher, student) and three countries (Spain, Germany, UK) participated. Victims and especially stable victims (in both primary and secondary school) scored lower on general self-esteem and higher on emotional loneliness, and reported more difficulties in maintaining friendships, than non-victims. Victims in secondary school had a lower self-esteem in relation to the opposite sex and were more often fearfully attached. The data revealed additional differences by gender, occupation and country level, but no further interactions with victim status. This indicates a general association between victimization in school and quality of later life predominately robust to variations in gender, occupation and country. Possible limitations caused by the retrospective nature of victimization reports are acknowledged.