What stops a good life for children? An exploration of bullying, poverty and gender

Publication type

Book Chapter

Series Number



Handbook of children’s risk, vulnerability and quality of life: global perspectives



Publication date

June 1, 2022


There is consensus amongst scholars of childhood bullying that far from being a harmless ‘rite of passage’, which children brush off easily as they grow up, bullying can cast a long shadow over their lives. However, conflicting findings have been reached about whether poverty predicts bullying involvement. There is also a lack of qualitative research into poor children’s perspectives on bullying, which could shed a light on the mechanisms through which bullying influences children’s quality of life. Analysis of the Understanding Childhoods qualitative longitudinal study of childhood poverty demonstrated that poverty was an explicit factor in only a handful of bullying incidents, but it often seemed to play a subtle role by placing strain on children’s relationships. This led to the hypothesis of socioeconomic circumstances moderating the effect of bullying on SWB. The qualitative analysis also indicated that bullying may be more harmful for older children, girls and non-White ethnicities, and that support from family and friends may be protective. These hypotheses were tested in quantitative analysis of Understanding Society: the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). There were clear associations between bullying involvement and SWB, most notably for being bulllied ‘in other ways’ (i.e. non-physically). Household income and a child-reported measure of pocket money and savings had a direct effect on the likelihood of being bullied and an indirect effect on SWB via being bullied. There were no significant interactions with socioeconomic circumstances, gender, age and ethnicity, but family and peer support were found to moderate the relationship between bullying and SWB.





Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only



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