“Prenatal factors had significant direct and indirect effects on victimization via partner conflict and maladaptive parenting,” they said.
How might this happen? Neurohormones, such as cortisol and noradrenaline, are released into the blood during exposure to stress in pregnancy and may change the fetus’s own stress response system, suggest the authors. “Thus, altered stress reactivity and phenotypic behavior may make children more likely targets of bullies, as they easily show a stress reaction.”
They also argue that preventive measures during pregnancy and early childhood might target families living in high adversity or with prenatal mental health problems.
“Similarly, providing extra support for children known to experience maladaptive parenting or witness aggression at home may reduce bullying involvement,” they concluded.
For more information about bullying see Psychiatric News here and Preventing Bullying and School Violence published by American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.