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11-08-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2018

Who Becomes a Bullying Perpetrator After the Experience of Bullying Victimization? The Moderating Role of Self-esteem

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2018
Boungho Choi, Soowon Park


It is well known that victims of bullying could become a bullying perpetrator later on. However, there are some cases where victims do not become bullies after being bullied. What constitutes the differences between the two groups, who show different response strategies despite the similar experiences of victimization, is the main question that the current study poses. Based on the threatened egotism theory, the current longitudinal study postulates that there could be possible moderating effects of self-esteem in the relationship between prior bullying victimization and subsequent bullying perpetration. The data was drawn from 3,660 Korean secondary students (51.5% male) in the Seoul Education Longitudinal Study for 2 waves (7th to 8th grades). The results from structural equation modeling indicated that there is a significant interaction effect between bullying victimization and self-esteem in the 7th grade, in prediction to bullying perpetration in the 8th grade, after controlling for the prior level of bullying victimization and perpetration experiences, demographic and background characteristics (i.e., gender and family income), students’ school-environmental factor (i.e., perceived seriousness of school bullying), individual factor (i.e., self-control) and family-environmental factor (i.e., parent–child relationship). Students with higher self-esteem were the most likely to engage in future bullying perpetration in response to bullying victimization, while the students with lower self-esteem were the least likely to engage in future bullying perpetration. Educators who examine adolescents’ social problems should pay closer attention to self-esteem, as well as their bullying and victimization experiences, in order to provide appropriate interventions.

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