Methods: A three-stage stratified random sampling method was used to obtain a representative sample from adolescents in China. Cross-sectional, self-report data were collected from 18,504 adolescents (Mage = 15.9, SD = 1.0) using a self-administered survey. Almost half of the sample (46.7%) was female. Standardized measurement instruments were used to assess variables of interest. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to estimate the relationships among latent variables, including parent-child attachment, physical-, relational-, and cyberbullying victimization, as well as health and mental health problems (e.g., depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, borderline and antisocial personality symptoms, and substance abuse), after controlling for adolescents’ sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, gender, parents’ marital status, parents’ education background, parents’ employment status, and family income).
Results: More than 41.6% of the sample reported having experienced any forms of bullying victimization, with 25.9% experienced physical bullying victimization, 32.0% experienced relational bullying victimization, and 6.8% experienced cyberbullying victimization. Approximately 3.7% of adolescents reported having experienced all three forms of bullying victimization.
Results of the SEM revealed that parental-child attachment was significantly negatively associated with physical-, relational-, and cyberbullying victimization (p < .001). Further, all three forms of bullying victimization had significant negative effects on adolescents’ health (p < .05), and positive effects on depression (p < .05) and borderline personality symptoms (p < .05). Both physical- and relational bullying victimization had significant positive effects on PTSD (p < .001) and antisocial personality symptoms (p < .05). Both physical- and cyberbullying victimization had a significant positive effect on adolescents’ substance abuse (p < .01). Relational bullying victimization alone had a significant negative effect on adolescents’ self-esteem (p < .01). In addition, gender difference was observed in physical- and cyberbullying victimization, with significantly more boys reported having experienced these forms of bullying victimization compared to girls (p < .001). Finally, results revealed that all three forms of bullying victimization combined significantly mediated the relationships between child-parent attachment and adolescents’ health, depression, PTSD, borderline personality symptoms, and substance abuse (p <.001). Overall, the model had an adequate fit (RMSEA = .031; CFI > .90).
Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest a substantial overlap of adolescents who experience multiple forms of bullying victimization; and physical-, relational-, and cyberbullying victimization are associated with similar health and mental health problems. Consequently, effective prevention and intervention programs that address different forms of bullying victimization together may be needed for Chinese adolescents. Findings and implications for research and practice will be discussed in details.