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"Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Bullying Will Get Me Bangin'": Bullying Involvement and Adolescent Gang Joining

NCJ Number
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice Volume: 17 Issue: 4 Dated: 2019 Pages: 385-412
Date Published
28 pages

This study examined issues in the overlap in bullying outcomes with antecedent gang risk factors, suggesting potential direct and indirect effects of bullying on gang involvement, testing these relationships and potential sex differences. 


Previous studies have shown that adolescents’ involvement in bullying (as perpetrators, victims, or both) is related to more negative outcomes than noninvolvement, and a small subset of studies has connected bullying to the specific outcome of gang involvement; however, most of these studies have been cross-sectional and have not examined causal pathways by which bullying and gang involvement may be related. Furthermore, some studies find sex differences in prevalence, type, and outcomes of bullying, as well as in the relationship between bullying and gang involvement, suggesting important prevention implications, yet this remains under-examined. The current study used longitudinal data from the second National Evaluation of Gang Resistance Education and Training to overcome limitations of prior research. Consistent with the study’s hypotheses, it found that (1) bullying victims exhibited the highest levels of risk; (2) bullies, victims, and bully-victims have increased odds of later gang joining, compared to uninvolved youth; (3) the inclusion of risk factors partially mediated the effect of bullying involvement on gang onset for bullies and victims and fully mediated the effect for bully-victims; and (4) some evidence of sex differences was found. Given these insights, greater connections between bullying and gang prevention efforts may be worthwhile. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019