Methods: The current investigation applied latent class analysis (LCA) to a sample of 671 (52% female, 59% Latino/a; mean age = 11 yrs) largely minority, low-income fifth grade students attending urban public elementary schools. Using wave four data from a group-randomized trial of a bullying prevention intervention in 28 schools, LCA provided an empirical classification of students based on reported rates of involvement in bulling and bully victimization as measured by the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire. LCA assumes that the relationship among the bullying indicator variables can be explained by a finite number of latent categorical variables. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests were then conducted to describe the nature of the classes by examining class differences on a number of covariates including level of school commitment, antisocial peer influence, antisocial attitudes, perspective-taking empathy, delinquency, and depression.
Results: LCA results indicated that a three class solution best fit the data based on several fit indices including the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC). Findings revealed distinct victim, bully-victim, and bystander classes. Interestingly, a separate bully class was not identified. ANOVA results indicated significant group differences between the victim, bully-victim, and bystander groups on levels of school commitment, antisocial peer influence, antisocial attitudes, perspective-taking empathy, delinquency, and depression.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings of this investigation are somewhat contrary to prior research suggesting that children often fall into four groups in the larger context of bullying and victimization (bully, bully-victim, victim, and bystanders). Our results suggest that children who bully other students also experience some level of bully victimization during elementary school. This finding challenges the common assumption that childhood bullies are somehow a separate and influential group in school settings. Similar to other studies, our results do indicate that levels of school commitment, antisocial peer influence, antisocial attitudes, perspective-taking empathy, delinquency, and depression differentiate bully-victims from victims and from those uninvolved in bullying and victimization. Implications for preventing bullying and victimization are delineated.