Reliability and validity of the Peer Relation Questionnaire in a sample of Greek school children and adolescents


Marilena Panagiotou1, Maria Charalampopoulou1, Flora Bacopoulou2✉, Ioanna Maria Velegraki1, Ioulia Kokka1, Dimitrios Vlachakis2,3,4, George P. Chrousos2, Christina Darviri1

1 Postgraduate Course of Science of Stress and Health Promotion, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

2 University Research Institute of Maternal and Child Health & Precision Medicine and UNESCO Chair on Adolescent Health Care, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Aghia Sophia Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece

3 Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Biotechnology, School of Applied Biology and Biotechnology, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece

4 Lab of Molecular Endocrinology, Center of Clinical, Experimental Surgery and Translational Research, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece

Competing interests: MP none; MC none; FB none; IMV none; IK none; DV none; GPC none; CD none

Panagiotou et al. (2021) EMBnet.journal 26, e974 http://dx.doi.org/10.14806/ej.26.1.974

Received: 29 November 2020 Accepted: 1 December 2020 Published: 23 August 2021


Bullying among children and adolescents can have detrimental effects on their physical and mental health. The first step in the identification of bullying is the detection of relevant signs and behaviours, with the use of appropriate instruments. The widely used Peer Relation Questionnaire (PRQ)has been developed to measure bullying behaviour in children and adolescents. The aim of this study was to translate and validate this instrument in the Greek language in a school sample of children and adolescents. Α sample of 193 students (mean age ± SD 11.44 ± 1.26 years, girls 49.7%), was recruited from elementary and junior high schools of the public and private sector, in the capital of Athens, Greece. Along with the Peer Relation Questionnaire, the Stress in Children questionnaire and a structured inquiry regarding satisfaction from various aspects of life were used to assess the criterion validity of the Peer Relation Questionnaire. Results revealed good psychometric properties of the questionnaire in the Greek language. The principal component analysis resulted in two subscales that demonstrated an adequate internal consistency and a significant correlation with stress and satisfaction parameters, suggesting satisfying criterion validity. Meaningful associations between demographic characteristics and the subscales were also found. The Greek version of the Peer Relation Questionnaire-short form can be used as a valid tool to measure bullying behaviour in children and adolescents.


Bullying is a major social phenomenon affecting not only children and adolescents, but adults as well (Rettew and Pawlowski, 2016). Although no scientific or legal definition exists, it is considered as an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour, that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm (Olweus et al., 1994). Victimization, aggressive behaviour and violence constitute the core elements of bullying (Smith et al., 2016).

Bullying can be perceived as a chronic stressor; data from a study conducted in Sweden in 2010, in a sample of 392 students of the 8th and 9th grades showed that ‘being bullied’ was associated with higher perceived stress levels in both males and females (Van Ryzin and Roseth, 2018). Verbal bullying, one of the most common forms of bullying, is a high-risk factor for stress, as it represents a latent manipulation aiming to exclude victims from their social networks (Osika et al., 2007). Bullying can affect children’s mental and physical health (Paris et al., 2017; Sulkoski et al., 2018; Wandera et al., 2017). From the mental health point of view, bullying has been linked to various disorders such as anxiety, psychosis, suicidality, and self-harm, which can appear during childhood and adolescence or emerge later in adulthood (Arseneault et al., 2010; 2006; Wolke et al., 2013; Dieter et al., 2013). The level of psychological trauma caused by bullying has been compared to that caused by abandonment or other severe types of maltreatment. Via peer bullying and victimisation, children may become less able or less inclined to relate to school and classmates (Kitagara et al., 2014).

The first step in the identification of bullying is the detection of relevant signs and behaviours, which can be achieved with the use of appropriate instruments. One of these instruments is the Peer Relation Questionnaire (PRQ) that has been developed by Rigby and Slee (Rigby and Slee, 1993) with an aim to detect bullying behaviour in children and adolescents. The purpose of this study was to validate the PRQ in Greek school children and adolescents. The main hypothesis was that PRQ will correlate with the Stress in Children (SiC) questionnaire and a structured inquiry regarding several aspects of life satisfaction.

Materials, Methodologies and Techniques

Translation procedure

After receiving the authors’ permission, the PRQ instrument was translated backward-forward, according to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for the adaptation of instruments. A pre-test of the translated questionnaire was then held to identify the presence of unclear expressions. The seven participants of the pre-test were representative of the target population regarding age.

Participants and Procedure

The study was conducted in the capital of Athens in Greece, between February and July 2019. The questionnaire was distributed to various elementary and junior high schools of the private and public sector. Eligible students were children and adolescents aged 8 to 14 years, able to write and read in the Greek language, who provided a written, signed consent form by a parent or legal guardian. Participation was voluntarily, anonymous and no remuneration was provided.


Demographic data: Participants were asked about their basic demographic characteristics which included sex, age and presence of siblings.

Peer Relation Questionnaire for children (PRQ): The Peer Relation Questionnaire (short form) is a self-report measure of bullying. It consists of 12 items and three subscales (tendency to bully others, tendency to be victimized by others and tendency to act in a pro-social or cooperative manner). Respondents report the frequency in which they experience each statement. Answers are scored in a 4-point Likert scale. Higher scores indicate greater frequency of each behaviour measured (Rigby and Slee, 1993).

Stress in Children Questionnaire (SiC): The Stress in Children questionnaire consists of 21 items examining the stress encountered by children in various aspects of their life. It was designed by Osika (Osika et al., 2007) and has been used in children aged between 9 and12 years. Questions are rated on a Likert scale with four possible answers. Higher scores indicate higher levels of stress.

Satisfaction: A structured inquiry was developed by the research team to assess the students’ level of school and self-satisfaction. Children reported the frequency they felt satisfied by answering on a 4-point Likert scale, from 1 = never to 4 = very often.

Statistical analysis

Descriptive analyses were performed to calculate means, frequencies, and standard deviations (SD). The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) statistic and Barlett’s Sphericity Test were used to examine sample’s adequacy. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to identify items’ factors. The appropriate number of factors was identified using the Scree-plot, since the study sample was not large enough to support the Kaiser criterion. The orthogonal varimax rotation was used for loadings of each item on derived factors to be maximized. Criterion-related validity was assessed by Pearson’s rho correlations with SiC and satisfaction measure. Cronbach’s alpha values were calculated to assess internal consistency of the identified factors. The PRQ’s subscales scores were assessed for meaningful associations with the other measurements of the study. The level of significance p value was 0.05. The SPSS statistical software version 22.0 for Windows was used for all statistical analyses (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL).


The main characteristics of the study’s sample are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Sociodemographic and other characteristics of the study sample (N = 193).

Boys N (%) 97 (50.3)
Girls N (%) 96 (49.7)
Age in years, mean (SD) 11.44 (1.26)
Siblings, N (%) 118 (61.1)
Stress score, mean (SD) 2.05 (0.39)
Satisfaction score, mean (SD)

32.50 (5.14)

Most participants were male (50.3%), with a mean age of 11.44 years, and had at least one sibling. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure verified the sampling adequacy for the analysis (KMO = 0.835) and all KMO measures for individual items were > 0.603, which is above the acceptable limit of 0.5. Bartlett’s test of sphericity x2 = 770,00, p < 0.001, indicated that correlations between items were large enough to perform Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The results of the PCA of the 12 items with orthogonal rotation (varimax) are presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Rotated factor loadings of the principal components analysis (PCA) for 12 items of PRQ (N =193).


“Bully/Victim Subscale”

“Social Subscale”

I get called names by others


I get picked on by others


I am part of a group that goes round teasing others


I like to make others scared of me


I enjoy upsetting wimps


I like to get into a fight with someone I can easily beat


Others make fun of me


I get hit and pushed around by others


I like to make friends


I like to help people are being harassed


I share things with others


I enjoy helping others



4.39 1.75

% of Variance

36.55 14.57

Cronbach’s alpha

0.740 0.727

PRQ: Peer Relation Questionnaire

Two components had eigenvalues greater than Kaiser’s criterion of 1. The average of communalities was 0.51, which is below the Kaiser’s criterion of 0.6 to be accurate. The Scree-plot (Figure 1) supported the choice for the selection of two components according to the inspection of inflexion points, which explained 51.12% of the variance.


Figure 1. Scree-plot of factors’ Eigenvalues regarding the PRQ.

The clusters of items, according to factor loadings (>0.3), within the two components were interpreted as following: “Bully/Victim Subscale” (BVS), “Social Subscale” (SS). Table 3 presents the mean scores of each subscale along with the theoretical and observed values of the range.

Table 3. Descriptive characteristics of the two subscales of the PRQ.







Bully/Victim Subscale

8 16.00 11.82 2,91 8.00 24.00



4 8.00 13.26 2.06 8.00 16.00

PRQ: Peer Relation Questionnaire

Table 4 presents the correlations between the two subscales.

Table 4. Correlations (Pearson’s rho) between PRQ subscales.

“Bully/victim subscale” “Social Subscale”
“Bully/victim subscale” 1
“Social subscale” -0.34*


PRQ: Peer Relation Questionnaire

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)

The two subscales are negatively correlated to each other, indicating that children who tend to receive bullying or bully others, are more likely to have less social behaviour. Table 5 presents meaningful associations between the PRQ subscales and study variables.

Table 5. Association between PRQ subscales and other study measurements.


“Bully/victim subscale” Mean (SD)

“Social subscale” Mean (SD)


“Bully/victim subscale”

“Social subscale”

Sex Age
Boys 14.64 (5.41) 12.47 (2.68) Pearson’s rho 0.21* -0.18*
Girls 14.94 (5.90) 12.01 (2.52) p-value < 0.01 < 0.01
Statistics t = - 0.36 t = 1.23
p-value 0.71 0.22 Stress score
Siblings Pearson’s rho 0.28** -0.21**
No 15.50 (6.13) 11.77 (2.59) p-value <0.01 <0.01
Yes 14.34 (5.30) 12.54 (2.58)
Statistics t = 1.34 t = -2.00 Satisfaction
p-value 0.18 0.04* Pearson’s rho -0.20** 0.16*
p-value 0.01


PRQ: Peer Relation Questionnaire

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)

**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)

Significant associations with the subscales can be summarized as follows: i) children and adolescents with siblings demonstrated higher score in the social subscale of the PRQ, ii) age was positively correlated to the bully/victim subscale and negatively correlated to the social subscale of the PRQ, iii) higher stress of children and adolescents was significantly correlated to bully/victim behaviour and negatively correlated to social behaviour, and iv) higher satisfaction was negatively correlated to bully/victim behaviour.


The current study was the first attempt to validate the PRQ in a sample of Greek school children and adolescents. The scale has been widely used as a measure of bullying behaviour mainly in cross-sectional studies. However, the fact that the PRQ has not been translated and validated in other languages apart from the original (English), restricts comparisons with other countries.

In this study, the PCA resulted in two subscales (bully/victim subscale, social subscale) unifying two of the three subscales described in the original study of the instrument. A plausible explanation could be the fact that children and adolescents who tend to bully others seem to be subjected to bullying themselves, making it difficult to differentiate bullies and victims of bullying (Cho, 2017).

As the study’s results have shown, children and adolescents with siblings demonstrated higher scores in the social subscale of the PRQ, thus, having siblings was a protective factor with respect to being victimized. Furthermore, age was positively correlated to the bully/victim subscale, while the opposite correlation was found regarding the social subscale of the PRQ. Particularly, younger respondents (7-8 years of age) experienced more general aggression and mobbing than older participants. This could be explained by the fact that as age progresses, children and adolescents engage in other forms of communication and are introduced in cyber-bullying (Vlachou et al., 2011; Monks et al., 2006). The initial hypothesis of the study that stress would be correlated with bully/victim behaviour was verified. This could be attributed to the fact that being either a bully or a victim constitutes a stressful condition. The negative correlation of stress with the social behaviour subscale may be explained by the fact that having a strong social network and bonds help individuals build better coping strategies (Münzer et al., 2017). In addition, a large cross-sectional study of 43,667 children and adolescents aged 11 to 15 years, from 9 European countries, found that any form of social support was related to less violent behaviour among school students (Mischel et al., 2020; Holt et al., 2007; Mishna et al., 2016). Numerous studies have revealed a significant interaction between bully/victim groups and peer social support (Alcantara et al., 2017); adolescents with access to social support systems are less victimized and have higher levels of self-perception (Aldridge et al., 2019). Perception of low social support from peers, school and family can increase the risk for relational, verbal and physical victimization (Lin et al., 2020; Chen et al., 2018; Estevez et al., 2019).

This study has some limitations. The generalization of the results cannot be verified, as the sample was not representative of other districts of Greece with different sociocultural backgrounds. Given the young age of participants, a test-retest procedure was not feasible, which might have affected reliability. Despite these restrictions, the adequacy of the sample size and the good criterion validity allow the use of the questionnaire in future studies in Greek elementary and high school populations. Future research should focus on other age groups as well.

In conclusion, the Greek version of the PRQ-short form demonstrated good psychometric properties and it can be safely used as a bullying measure in future studies of children and adolescents.

Key Points

Bullying is a major social phenomenon in schools.

Bullying can cause physical and psychological harm in children and adolescents.

The Peer Relation Questionnaire (PRQ) is a widely used self-report measure of bullying.

Validation of the PRQ was performed in a Greek sample of school children and adolescents.

The Greek version of the PRQ-short form demonstrated good psychometric properties and satisfying internal consistency.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


1. Alcantara SC, González-Carrasco M, Montserrat C et al. (2017) Peer violence in the School Environment and Its Relationship with Subjective Well-Being and Perceived Social Support Among Children and Adolescents in Northeastern Brazil. J Happiness Stud 18, 1507–1532. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9786-1

2. Aldridge JM, McChesney K, Afari E (2020) Associations between school climate and student life satisfaction: resilience and bullying as mediating factors. Learning Environ Res 23, 129–150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10984-019-09296-9

3. Arseneault L, Bowes L, Shakoor S (2010) Bullying victimization in youths and mental health problems: ‘much ado about nothing’? Psychol Med 40(5), 717–729.

4. Arseneault L, Walsh E, Trzesniewski K, Newcombe R, Caspi A, Moffitt TE (2006) Bullying victimization uniquely contributes to adjustment problems in young children: a nationally representative cohort study. Pediatrics 118(1), 130–138. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2005-2388

5. Copeland WE, Wolke D, Angold A, Costello EJ (2013) Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence. JAMA Psychiatry 70 (4), 419–426. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504

6. Chen G, Kong Y, Deater-Deckard K, Zhang W (2018) Bullying Victimization Heightens Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress in Chinese Children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 46(5), 1051–1059. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10802-017-0366-6

7. Cho S (2017) Explaining the overlap between bullying perpetration and bullying victimization: Assessing the time-ordered and correlative relationships. Children and Youth Services Review 79, 280-290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.06.016

8. Estévez E, Estévez JF, Segura L, Suárez C (2019) The influence of bullying and cyberbullying in the psychological adjustment of victims and aggressors in adolescence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(12), 2080. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122080

9. Holt MK, Espelage DL (2007) Perceived social support among bullies, victims, and bully-victims. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 36(8), 984-994. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-006-9153-3

10. Kitagawa Y, Shimodera S, Togo F, Okazak, Y, Nishida A, Sasaki T (2014) Suicidal feelings interfere with help-seeking in bullied adolescents. Plos One 9(9), e106031. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106031

11. Lin M, Wolke D, Schneider S, Margraf J (2020) Bullying history and mental health in university students: the mediator roles of social support, personal resilience, and self-efficacy. Frontiers in Psychiatry 10, 960. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00960

12. Mischel J, Kitsantas A (2020) Middle school students’ perceptions of school climate, bullying prevalence, and social support and coping. Social Psychology of Education 23(1), 51-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09522-5

13. Mishna F, Khoury-Kassabri M, Schwan K, Wiener J, Craig W, Beran T, Daciuk J (2016) The contribution of social support to children and adolescents’ self-perception: The mediating role of bullying victimization. Children and Youth Services Review 63, 120-127. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.02.013

14. Monks CP and Smith PK (2006) Definitions of bullying: Age differences in understanding of the term, and the role of experience. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 24(4), 801-821. http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/026151005X82352

15. Münzer A, Ganser HG, Goldbeck L (2017) Social support, negative maltreatment-related cognitions and posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect 63, 183-191. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.11.015

16. Olweus D (1994) Bullying at school: basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 35 (7), 1171–1190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.1994.tb01229.x

17. Osika W, Friberg P, Wahrborg P (2007) A new short self-rating questionnaire to assess stress in children. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine 14(2), 108-117. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/BF03004176. PMID: 17926439

18. Parris L, Varjas K, Meyers J, Henrich C, Brack J (2019) Coping with bullying: The moderating effects of self-reliance. Journal of School Violence 18(1), 62-76. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1080/15388220.2017.1387131

19. Rettew DC, Pawlowski S (2016) Bullying. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 25(2), 235–242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2015.12.002

20. Rigby K, Slee PT (1993) Dimensions of interpersonal relation among Australian children and implications for psychological well-being. The Journal of Social Psychology 133(1), 33-42. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1993.9712116

21. Smith PK (2016) Bullying: Definition, types, causes, consequences and intervention. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 10(9), 519-532.

22. Takizawa R, Maughan B, Arseneault L (2014) Adult health outcomes of childhoodbullying victimization: evidence from a five-decade longitudinal British birthcohort. Am J Psychiatry 171(7), 777–784. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13101401

23. Van Ryzin MJ, Roseth CJ (2018) Cooperative learning in middle school: a means to improve peer relations and reduce victimization, bullying, and related outcomes. J Educ Psychol 110(8), 1192-1201. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000265

24. Vlachou M, Andreou E, Botsoglou K, Didaskalou E (2011) Bully/victim problems among preschool children: A review of current research evidence. Educational Psychology Review 23(3), 329. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10648-011-9153-z

25. Wandera SO, Clarke K, Knight L, Allen E, Walakira E et al. (2017) Violence against children perpetrated by peers: A cross-sectional school-based survey in Uganda. Child Abuse & Neglect 68, 65-73. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.04.006

26. Wolke D, Copeland WE, Angold A, Costello EJ (2013) Impact of bullying in childhood on adult health, wealth, crime, and social outcomes. Psychol Sci 24(10), 1958-1970. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797613481608


  • There are currently no refbacks.