Family histories of school bullying: implications for parent-child psychotherapy

Robert Allison, Leigh Roeger, Bradley Smith, Linda Isherwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether a parent's past history of peer victimisation predicted their children's risk of being bullied at school. Method: In face-to-face interviews, a representative community sample of 1895 mothers and fathers were asked about exposure to traumatic bullying during their schooling. Parents completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) to measure possible links with health-related quality of life. The interviews also inquired whether their children were victims of traumatic bullying at school. Results: Parental victimisation was associated with an increased risk for their children being bullied (55% with a positive parental history compared with 25% with no parental history: relative risk=2.17). In a multivariate logistic model controlling for the parents' age, gender, socioeconomic status and health-related quality of life (physical and emotional components), parental victimisation remained a strong predictor for the children's victimisation at school (relative risk=2.00). In 9.3% of the sample, both parent and child experienced bullying during their schooling. Conclusions: Parent and child dyads can be exposed sequentially to school bullying. In some instances, they may share familial characteristics that are exploited by bullies. These experiences can be explored in parent-child psychotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-153
Number of pages5
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Family history
  • Parent-child psychotherapy
  • School bullying


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