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Race-based Bullying Victimization and Adjustment Difficulties: Racial-Ethnic Differences in the Protective Role of School Equity

NCJ Number
International Journal of Bullying Prevention Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Date Published

This article reports on research that sought to explore the role of school equity as a potential buffer for adjustment difficulties among race-based bullying victims and possible racial-ethnic differences; it describes the research methodology, outcomes, and implications for practice.


Race-based bullying (RBB) victimization is a significant concern among youth and can translate into a range of adjustment problems. As such, additional research is needed on possible protective factors that may buffer these effects among RBB victims. One potential factor is school equity, as it may buffer race-based bullying victims from maladjustment. The study described here sought to explore the role of school equity as a potential buffer for adjustment difficulties (i.e., internalizing, externalizing, sleep, and substance use problems) among race-based bullying victims and possible racial-ethnic differences in this association. Self-report data were collected from 8,977 middle- and high-school youth who self-identified as bullying victims, of which 22.6 percent reported experiencing RBB. Results of multilevel analyses indicated that RBB victims showed higher levels of adjustment difficulties than victims who experienced general, non-RBB victimization. Student perceptions of school equity, at both the individual and school level, appeared to buffer the association between RBB and adjustment difficulties. Although a potential factor for all racial-ethnic groups, the function of individual-level equity was more pronounced among some ethnic groups than in others, and the potential influence of school-level equity was stronger among black victims than among others. Taken together, the findings highlight the importance of promoting school equity to buffer the potential influence of RBB victimization on adjustment difficulties, which was particularly salient among racial-ethnic minoritized subgroups. Implications for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and other prevention efforts are discussed. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2023