OBJECTIVE : The link between both bullying and victimisation and psychopathology has been well
established. Forgiveness has been associated with better mental health. However, few studies
have examined the relationship between adolescent forgiveness, psychopathology and bullying/
victimisation. This study investigated forgiveness as a mediator of the adverse mental health problems
experienced by bullies and victims of bullying.
METHOD : Participants were 355 Year 10 or Year 11 pupils (age = 14.9 years) from two British secondary
schools in 2007, who completed self-administered measures on bullying and victimisation, mental
health, forgiveness of self and others, and forgivingness. The mediating influence of forgiveness on the
impact of bullying/victimisation on mental health was tested with a structural equation model.
RESULTS : Data from 55.6% of the 639 eligible pupils were analysed. Results confirmed an association
between bullying/victimisation, forgiveness and psychopathology. Forgiveness scores were found to
play a mediating role between bullying/victimisation and psychopathology.
CONCLUSIONS : Victimised adolescents who were better able to forgive themselves were more likely
to report lower levels of psychopathology, while bullying adolescents who were unable to forgive
others were more likely to report higher levels of psychopathology. This suggests a greater role for
forgiveness within future research, intervention and policy on bullying. Forgiveness can form a valuable
part of preventative and educational anti-bullying programmes.