Original Research

Psychiatric morbidity in children involved in bullying treated at the Free State Psychiatric Complex

Mosa Masakala, Matieho Mofokeng, Amanda Muchocho, Siphesihle Sibisi, Johan le Roux, Helene le Roux, Gina Joubert
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a2000 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.2000 | © 2023 Mosa Masakala, Matieho Mofokeng, Amanda Muchocho, Siphesihle Sibisi, Johan le Roux, Helene le Roux, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 October 2022 | Published: 30 March 2023

About the author(s)

Mosa Masakala, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Matieho Mofokeng, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Amanda Muchocho, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Siphesihle Sibisi, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Johan le Roux, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Helene le Roux, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Bullying is a multifaceted problem with many consequences.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the psychiatric morbidity of children involved in bullying, either as bullies or victims, treated at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Care Centre of the Free State Psychiatric Complex (FSPC).

Setting: Free State Psychiatric Complex, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study included children under 18 years treated at the FSPC Care Centre between January and September 2017. Information was extracted from patient files.

Results: Of 288 patients, 98 (34.0%) were involved in bullying: 66 were bullies, 28 victims, 3 bully-victims, and 1 unspecified. For gender and family structure, there were no statistically significant differences between children involved and those not involved in bullying and between bullies and victims. Almost all bullies (95.4%) had aggression as presenting complaint compared with 39.3% of the victims (p < 0.01). Statistically significantly more victims, than bullies, reported sadness (21.4%, 4.6%, p = 0.02). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was diagnosed in most children, both involved (73.5%) and not involved (63.2%). Statistically significant differences for the presence of conduct disorder were found between children involved and those not involved in bullying (31.6%, 10.0%, p < 0.01) and between bullies and victims (39.4%, 14.3%, p = 0.02).

Conclusion: The prevalence of conduct disorder diagnosis was more common in bullies than in victims and those involved in bullying as opposed to those not involved.

Contribution: Psychiatric information of bullying victims and perpetrators in the Free State, which had a high prevalence of bullying in a national survey.


Keywords

bullying; victims and bullies; psychiatric conditions; health profile; involved versus not involved.

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