Relationship between Bullying Experiences, Self- Esteem and Depression among secondary school pupils

  • B Mungala The Department of Psychology, University of Zambia
  • D Nabuzoka The Department of Psychology, University of Zambia


Main Objective: We examined whether exposure to bullying would predict low self esteem and depression among  econdary school adolescents.

Design: We used an adolescent study sample of 250 day secondary school learners in Livingstone, Zambia, who were recruited randomly from conveniently selected day secondary schools. The sample comprised an equal number of boys
(N=125) and girls (N=125) of age range 13 to 17.

Out comes: The study showed gender differences on bullying and depression among the grade nine learners with highest levels of bullying experiences, low self-esteem and depression among girls. An association (p < .05)
was established between bullying and depression. Also, we were able to establish an inverse (p= -16) correlation between bullying and self-esteem. Bullying experiences (physical, social and verbal) accounted for 14.6
% of variance on low self-esteem and 33.7% of variance on depression. Social bullying was the strongest predictor of low self-esteem (beta= -.491, sig = .000) and depression (beta =.332, sig =.000).

Measures: The participants self-reported their experiences of bullying on Adolescent Peer relations victim scale B (Parada 2000). Selfesteem levels were measured using the Rosenberg Self-esteem scale (Rosenberg,: 1985).The Beck depression inventory (BD1-11) from the Zambia Neurobehavioral Battery was used to measure adolescents levels of
depression. This was a quantitative correlational study.

Results: The more bullied students were, the less self-esteem thy exhibited and the more depressed they became. Girls were more vulnerable to bullying with low self-esteem and high depression levels as compared to boys.

Conclusions: Adolescents who frequently experience bullying manifest low self-esteem and higher levels of depression. Increased frequency of exposure to bullying is a consistent predictor of adolescent depression and low selfesteem.


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How to Cite
Mungala, B., & Nabuzoka, D. (2020). Relationship between Bullying Experiences, Self- Esteem and Depression among secondary school pupils. Medical Journal of Zambia, 47(2), 106 - 111. Retrieved from
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