The relationship of bullying and physical violence to mental health and academic performance: A cross-sectional study among adolescents in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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AlBuhairan, Fadia ; Abou Abbas, Oraynab ; El Sayed, Donna ; Badri, Motasim ; Alshahri, Sulieman ; de Vries, Nanne (2017)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: International Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (issn: 2352-6467)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.ijpam.2016.12.005
  • Subject: Saudi Arabia | Anxiety | School | Adolescents | RJ1-570 | Mental health | Pediatrics | Aggression | Depression | Academic performance | Bullying
    mesheuropmc: education

Background and objectives: Bullying and physical violence are serious public health concerns witnessed during adolescence and are associated with several health and behavioral problems that can persist into adulthood. The relationship between bullying/physical violence and mental health/academic performance in Saudi Arabia is unknown. This study aims at filling this gap through identifying the association of these health risk behaviors and mental health and academic performance. Materials and methods: A cross-sectional national survey was conducted in Saudi Arabia between 2011 and 2012. Adolescents attending intermediate and secondary schools were invited to participate through a multi-stage, stratified, cluster random sampling technique. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data. Data were analyzed using chi-square tests to identify associations, and odds ratios were calculated. Results: A total of 9073 students participated. Twenty-six percent of adolescents reported exposure to bullying in the preceding 30 days, and one out of every three adolescents reported exposure to physical violence at school during the past year. More males than females, and more older adolescents were exposed to bullying. Exposure to physical violence and bullying were both associated with higher odds of having more frequent symptoms of depression and anxiety. Those exposed to physical violence were at higher odds of having poorer academic performance. Conclusion: Bullying and physical violence among adolescent students in Saudi Arabia is prevalent and deserves special attention due to its harmful impact on the other aspects of students’ wellbeing.
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