Peer bullying and victimization are a widespread phenomenon among school-age children and can have detrimental effects on the development of children. To examine whether having a close companion during childhood increases or decreases risk of victimization and bullying, this study compared twins to singleton children. A large group of twins (n = 9,909) were included who were compared to their related non-twin siblings (n = 1,534) aged 7-12 from the Netherlands Twin Register, thus creating optimal matching between twins and non-twins. Bullying and victimization were each based on a four-item scale filled out by their teachers. Prevalence rates for either bullying or victimization did not differ between twins and singletons. In total, in the past couple of months, 36% of children bullied peers moderately to severely, and 35% suffered moderately to severely from victimization. Boys were more likely to bully and were more prone to becoming a victim than girls. The most notable finding is that female twin pairs placed together in the same classroom did not bully more often, but were victimized less often, thus pointing to a protective effect of having a close companion in the classroom.
- Journal Article