Victimization, aggression, and visits to the school nurse for somatic complaints, illnesses, and physical injuries

Eric M. Vernberg, Timothy D. Nelson, Peter Fonagy, Stuart W. Twemlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To examine how involvement in aggressor-victim interactions is linked to somatic complaints, illnesses, and physical injuries among elementary school-aged children. STUDY DESIGN: This study was composed of a school-based sample of 590 children in grades 3 through 5. Independent sources were used to assess victimization (self-report) and aggression (peer report) in the fall semester. School nursing logs for the entire school year were collected in May and coded for the number of times each child presented with a somatic complaint, illness, or injury. RESULTS: Both aggression and victimization were significantly related to all 3 reasons for nurse visits, controlling for demographic variables. Higher levels of aggression and victimization each were independently associated with more frequent visits to the school nurse for somatic complaints, illnesses, and injuries. A significant victimization-times- aggression interaction was found for illnesses, with nonaggressive victimized children presenting most frequently for illness visits. CONCLUSIONS: Involvement in aggressor-victim interactions, as either aggressor, victim, or both, is associated with more frequent health complaints, based on school nursing logs. Prevention, early identification, and treatment of problems with victimization and aggression may have important health implications for children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-848
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011



  • Aggression
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Peer victimization
  • School nurse visits
  • Somatic complaints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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