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Social–emotional Functioning Among Bias-based Bullies, Victims, and Bully-victims

NCJ Number
School Psychology Volume: Online Dated: Feb 2024
Date Published
February 2024

This research adds to extant research by exploring whether similar patterns emerge for bias-based harassment. Bias-based harassment in U.S. schools is an increasingly significant concern for students' well-being. Past research on bullying broadly defined has indicated that the ways in which youth are involved in bullying (i.e., as bullies, victims, and bully-victims) are differentially associated with functioning. In this study, a nationally representative sample of 639 adolescents, ages 13-17, completed online surveys in 2021 that included measures of bias-based harassment, anxiety, depression, substance use, and school social support. Findings from a multivariate latent variable model indicated that after controlling for demographic variables, compared to individuals not involved in bias-based harassment, students involved as victims, perpetrators, or both victims and perpetrators of bias-based harassment (i.e., bias-based bully-victims) reported more mental health symptoms. Substance use was elevated for bias-based perpetrators and bully-victims, whereas school social support was diminished for bias-based victims and bully-victims. Notably, bias-based bully-victims had the highest levels of anxiety symptoms and substance use, and lowest levels of school social support, among all adolescents. Findings highlight that involvement in bias-based harassment in any capacity is associated with deleterious functioning, with bias-based bully-victims reporting particularly adverse functioning across domains. Bolstering protective factors such as school social support would be a useful component of school practices and prevention programs related to bias-based harassment. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: February 1, 2024