Background: Adolescents and parents often disagree about the perception of bullying
victimization since adults tend to underestimate its occurrence.
Objective: This study identifies factors that can influence maternal perception of bullying
victimization experienced by her son/daughter in the past 12 months.
Methods: This cross-sectional study involved a representative sample of in-school adolescents
(n=669, 11-15-years) living in Itaboraí city, Brazil (mean age±SE: 13.01±0.07 years;
51.7% females). A 3-stage probabilistic sampling procedure (random selection of census
units, eligible households and target child) generated sampling weights. Trained lay interviewers
individually applied semi-structured questionnaires to mothers and adolescents in
the households. Multivariable logistic regression analysis examined factors potentially influencing
maternal perception of bullying victimization experienced by her son/daughter: adolescent
gender and age, adolescent self-perceived bullying victimization, exposure to severe
physical punishment by parents, internalizing/externalizing behaviour problems identified by
the Youth Self-Report/YSR, maternal education and maternal anxiety/depression identified
by the 20-item Self-Reporting Questionnaire/SRQ-20.
Results: Univariable logistic regression analysis identified a strong association between adolescent
self-perceived bullying victimization and maternal perception of bullying victimization
experienced by her son/daughter. Multivariable models showed that adolescent perception
influenced maternal perception when adolescents had no clinical internalizing behaviour
problems and when mothers had higher education.
Conclusion: Anxious/depressive adolescents may hide victimization incidents, while those
with no problems probably reveal these incidents to the mother. Considering that maternal
low education is an indicator of low socioeconomic status, which is associated with multiple
stressors, less educated mothers may be more likely to interpret these incidents as a common
part of growing-up.