Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 2414–2423 | Cite as

Who Becomes a Bullying Perpetrator After the Experience of Bullying Victimization? The Moderating Role of Self-esteem

  • Boungho Choi
  • Soowon ParkEmail author
Empirical Research


It is well known that victims of bullying could become a bullying perpetrator later on. However, there are some cases where victims do not become bullies after being bullied. What constitutes the differences between the two groups, who show different response strategies despite the similar experiences of victimization, is the main question that the current study poses. Based on the threatened egotism theory, the current longitudinal study postulates that there could be possible moderating effects of self-esteem in the relationship between prior bullying victimization and subsequent bullying perpetration. The data was drawn from 3,660 Korean secondary students (51.5% male) in the Seoul Education Longitudinal Study for 2 waves (7th to 8th grades). The results from structural equation modeling indicated that there is a significant interaction effect between bullying victimization and self-esteem in the 7th grade, in prediction to bullying perpetration in the 8th grade, after controlling for the prior level of bullying victimization and perpetration experiences, demographic and background characteristics (i.e., gender and family income), students’ school-environmental factor (i.e., perceived seriousness of school bullying), individual factor (i.e., self-control) and family-environmental factor (i.e., parent–child relationship). Students with higher self-esteem were the most likely to engage in future bullying perpetration in response to bullying victimization, while the students with lower self-esteem were the least likely to engage in future bullying perpetration. Educators who examine adolescents’ social problems should pay closer attention to self-esteem, as well as their bullying and victimization experiences, in order to provide appropriate interventions.


Bullying victimization Bullying perpetration Self-esteem Moderating effects 


Authors’ Contributions

BC conceived of the study, participated in its design and performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; SP participated in the interpretation of the data and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the Seoul Education Research & Information Institute but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. However, data are available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of the Seoul Education Research & Information Institute (

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education DepartmentKorean National Police UniversityAsanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of EducationSejong UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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