Investigating retrospective bullying experiences: how does social support contribute to current resilience and recurrent memories of bullying?

Katherine Hurren, Rachel Maunder

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePosterpeer-review


Bullying in schools is an ongoing concern; with Young Minds (2014) reporting that half of the young people they surveyed said they had been bullied. Exposure to traumatic stressful events such as bullying can lead to unpleasant recurrent memories and intrusive imagery associated with the experience (Sansen et al, 2015; Storch & Esposito, 2003). There is convincing evidence for the short and long term negative effects that bullying can have on victims, including increased risk of depressive symptoms, anxiety and low self-worth (Hawker & Boulton, 2000). We suggest however that the focus of research in this area has mainly been orientated towards the course and characteristics of problematic outcomes, thus has arguably neglected to adequately understand why not all victims of bullying are affected, and what factors may have helped those individuals to cope more effectively with their experiences. For example, social support is a protective factor when exposed to trauma (Agaibi & Wilson, 2005) and increased resilience is sometimes the product of stressful life events (Bogar & Hulse-Kilacky, 2006). Therefore, the present study examined the relationships between retrospective accounts of bullying at school and amount of social support available when at school, with experiences of recurrent unpleasant memories of bullying and current levels of resilience. Eighty-six participants (51 female, 35 male) completed an adapted version of the Retrospective Bullying questionnaire (RBQ) (Schafer et al., 2004) measuring bullying frequency when they were at secondary school, and recent unpleasant recurrent memories of their bullying experiences. They also completed an abbreviated version of the Two-way Social Support Scale (2-Way SSS) (Shakespeare-Finch & Obst, 2011) to measure the social support they received when at secondary school, and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC, Connor & Davidson, 2003) to measure their current resilience to life events. Mediation analysis indicated that social support was a statistically significant mediator between bullying frequency and resilience whereby frequently bullied participants were more resilient if they received greater social support when at school. Social support was not a significant mediator between bullying frequency and recurrent memories, but there was a significant negative relationship between resilience and recurrent memories, meaning that those who had greater resilience had lower reports of recurrent memories. Implications and interventions for enabling greater social support in order to promote resiliency among youths are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015
EventViolence: Children, Family & Society Conference 2015 - The University of Northampton, Northampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Jun 201526 Jun 2015


ConferenceViolence: Children, Family & Society Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
OtherViolence is part of the daily lived experience of many people round the world. As a tool of domination and control, it impacts negatively on people’s health, mental health, interpersonal relationships, harms communities and produces a range of sociopolitical effects. This three day conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary and multi-professional context to consider the experience and impact of violence on children, families, individuals and society. We will also consider interventions and responses to violence at individual, interpersonal, community, political and social levels
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