The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Individual and School Risk and Protective Factors for Bullying Victimization and School Hassles: Results From the NC-ACE Rural Adaptation Project

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 3:00 PM
Marina 5 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Paul R. Smokowski, PhD, Professor and Director, North Carolina Academic Center for Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Shenyang Guo, PhD, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Katie Cotter, MSW, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Caroline Robertson, MSW, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: School bullying is a serious public health problem that has come to the forefront of this nation’s attention in the past decade. The majority of bullying research involves samples from urban schools. Due to the unique risk factors associated with rural living, additional research examining bullying in rural schools is warranted. The consequences of bullying victimization are particularly pernicious and include increased levels of behavioral, emotional, and physical problems. While the majority of bullying incidents occur in or around school, little is known about school characteristics associated with bullying, especially in rural schools. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to investigate the characteristics of bullying victims and to increase understanding of the school characteristics associated with bullying in a rural setting.

Methods: The participants in this study included a sample of 4,321 (3,610 after list-wise deletion) racially and ethnically diverse youth (26.4% Native American, 25.9% White, 24.2% African American, 11.9% Hispanic/Latino, and 9.5% Mixed) from 28 schools. Slightly more than half (51%) of the sample was female. The mean age of the sample was 12.8 years. After obtaining parental consent, the School Success Profile-Plus was administered to participants electronically at their respective schools. A binary logistic regression model was created for each dependent variable: a dichotomous variable measuring victimization in the past twelve months and a 13-item School Hassles scale

Results: Overall, 22.71% of the sample experienced bullying victimization.Among the 28 schools, reported victimization rates ranged from 11 to 38%. Risk factors for victimization include: younger students and students experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety. Being female, Hispanic/Latino, or African American is associated with a decreased risk for bullying victimization. A significant proportion (39.37%) of the sample reported a high level of School Hassles. Younger students and students with higher levels of anxiety and depression are at an increased risk of experiencing high levels of School Hassles. Students from larger schools tended to report high levels of School Hassles, while students from schools with a high percentage of teachers with advanced degrees reported lower levels of School Hassles.

Conclusions/Implications: This study contributes to knowledge of bullying victimization by illuminating individual and school environment risk factors in a large sample of rural youth. The model identifies important demographic risk factors for victimization and experiencing school hassles. While the characteristics associated with victimization appear to mirror those from urban samples, the prevalence of bullying in the rural areas assessed was not only higher than the national rate and the state rate for North Carolina (16.6%), it was over 25% in 9 out of the 28 schools assessed. This increased prevalence, coupled with the unique risk factors associated with rural living, underline the need for bullying interventions tailored to rural schools.