In contrast to victimization, prior research on the antecedents and outcomes of bullying perpetration has provided little conclusive knowledge. Some adolescent bullies may be well adjusted and popular among peers, while other bullies are rejected and lack self-control. There is also great variation in the outcomes, with a number of studies (but not all) showing increased risk for externalizing and internalizing problems. We used a developmental framework and data from 2,230 participants of the Dutch Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS) to examine bullying perpetration across adolescence, to test the links with various antecedents in preadolescence, and to elucidate the outcomes in early adulthood. Latent growth models indicated significant variance in initial bullying perpetration levels and an overall decrease between pre- and late adolescence. Individual, family, and peer factors were associated with initial levels and partially associated with bullying development over time. Bullying perpetration was linked to later maladjustment and substance use, although only in girls. Finally, bullying perpetration appears to function as an intermediate variable between preadolescent individual, family, and peer risk and substance use more than 10 years later. These results have important implications for understanding the gender-specific nature of bullying perpetration and its outcomes and for demonstrating that bullying carries early risk into adulthood.
A substantive body of literature suggests that those involved in bullying as perpetrators but particularly victims are at greater risk for psychological maladjustment. In comparison, relatively little is known about associations between bullying-victimization and perpetration and mastery of early adult tasks in domains including romantic relationships, education, work, financial competence, and conduct. These links were tested using data from two Dutch cohorts (RADAR-young, n = 497, 43% girls; TRAILS, n = 2230, 51% girls) who reported on victimization and perpetration at age 11 (TRAILS) and 13 (RADAR-young) and mastery of developmental tasks in early adulthood. Unadjusted regression analyses suggested for both cohorts that perpetrators were less likely to abide the law and more likely to smoke. Victims in TRAILS were less competent in the domains of education, work, and finances, and more likely to smoke in RADAR-young. Adjusting for childhood demographics and child intelligence and including psychopathology in the prediction models substantially reduced the strength of associations between bullying involvement and later outcomes in both cohorts; although association were retained between victimization and welfare dependence and perpetration and crime involvement in TRAILS. Parental support did not buffer associations in either sample and neither were gender differences detected. Overall, findings underline that negative outcomes of bullying are not only a concern for victims but also for their perpetrators although involvement in bullying is not a stable predictor of mastery of developmental tasks when childhood demographics, child intelligence, and psychopathology are taken into account.