Published: February 25, 2021

Matuschka, L. K., Scott, J. G., Campbell, M. A., Lawrence, D., Zubrick, S. R., Bartlett, J., & Thomas, H. J. (2021). Correlates of help-seeking behaviour in adolescents who experience bullying victimisation. International Journal of Bullying Prevention.


Lori K. Matuschka, James G. Scott, Marilyn A. Campbell, David Lawrence, Stephen R. Zubrick, Jennifer Bartlett and Hannah J. Thomas.


A commonly suggested strategy for addressing bullying is for victims to seek help from a trusted person. Despite this recommendation, there are a group of adolescent victims who choose not to seek help. This study aimed to identify factors associated with not seeking help among adolescents who experienced bullying victimisation. A sub-sample of youth who self-reported being bullied (N = 652) was drawn from an Australian nationally representative household survey of adolescents aged 11–17 years (N = 2,967). Adolescent participants and their parents completed survey items on demographics, bullying experiences, mental health, school, and family characteristics. Overall, 45.3% of bullied adolescents did not seek help. Neither the type, frequency, nor levels of distress caused by the bullying victimisation were associated with help-seeking. Age was no longer associated with increased odds of not seeking help for bullying victimisation, after controlling for mental health, social, and interpersonal functioning. In a multivariate logistic regression model examining demographic, mental health, social, and interpersonal factors, those with poorer prosocial skills, lower perceived social support, and higher internet use had increased odds of not seeking help for bullying victimisation (OR = 2.81, 95% CI = 1.00, 7.93; OR = 2.70, 95% CI = 1.32, 5.52; and OR = 2.19, 95% CI = 1.11, 4.33, respectively). Identifying and supporting young people who are socially isolated and/or have poorer prosocial skills may improve help-seeking among adolescents who experience bullying victimisation. This approach has the potential to address victimisation earlier in its course thereby reducing consequent harm.