The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between bullying and mental Health in schoolchildren with special educational needs (SEN). Random sampling was used to select two groups of children aged 11–12 years, attending the fifth and sixth grades of primary school and integration classes in urban and rural locations in Greece. The final sample comprised a group of 80 children with SEN and a control group of 81 children. The participants completed The Revised Olweus Bullying Victim Questionnaire and The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The children in the SEN group scored significantly higher on both the "Victimization" dimension and the "Intimidation" dimension of the Olweus questionnaire than the children in the control group. On the SDQ, the SEN group scored significantly higher overall, and in the dimensions "Emotional Symptoms", "Hyperactivity" and "Peer Problems", and significantly lower in the dimension "Prο- social Behavior", indicating more mental health problems in comparison to the children in the control group. In addition, significant correlation was demonstrated between the dimensions "Victimization" and "Intimidation" of the Olweus questionnaire and almost all the SDQ dimensions. Multifactorial linear regression analysis showed that the SDQ scores were independently associated with the Olweus dimensions "Victimization" and "Bullying". In addition, higher scores in emotional symptoms and conduct problems were associated with higher scores in the dimensions 'Victimization' and Intimidation'. Higher scores in "Victimization" were recorded by children with SEN, but also by those who had not been born in Greece. Children with SEN and those with conduct problems scored higher in the dimension "Bullying" than children whose native language was not Greek. In conclusion, this study showed that in the fifth and sixth grades of primary school, a group of schoolchildren with SEN reported higher levels than a control group of victimization and bullying. These findings suggest that there is a great need for raising the awareness of this situation among the school staff through the provision of special training. Mental health preventive and promotive programs can enable school staff to identify students who are at higher risk of becoming victims of bullying and victimization. It is also recommended that children with SEN should be taught coping strategies against school bullying in the classroom and the wider school community.

Key words: School bullying, victimization, special educational needs, mental health.

Α. Dasioti, G. Kolaitis. (page 149)

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