Who escapes or remains a victim of bullying in primary school?
The stability of both direct and relational victimization and factors that contribute to remaining, escaping or becoming a victim of bullying were investigated. 663 children at baseline aged 6-9 (years 2-4) were interviewed about their bullying experiences and parents completed a behaviour and health measure. Children's perception of the degree of social hierarchical structuring and social prominence in their class was determined by peer nominations. 432 children participated in the follow-up either 2 or 4 years after baseline aged 10-11 (year 6) and completed a bullying questionnaire. Relational victims and children from classes with a high hierarchical structure were more likely to have dropped out of the study compared to neutral children, and children from classes with a low hierarchical structure. Relative risk analyses indicated a twofold increased risk of remaining a direct victim at follow-up, compared to a child not involved at baseline becoming a victim over the follow-up period. In contrast, relational victimization increased but was not found to be stable. Logistic regression analyses revealed that being a girl, and receiving few positive peer nominations predicted remaining a direct victim. Becoming a relational victim at follow-up was predicted by a strong class hierarchy. The implications for future study of early recognition of likely long term victims and early preventative bullying initiatives are discussed.