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

Bullying Perpetration and Victimization Among a Community-Based Sample of Sexual Minority Youths: Roles of Bully, Victim, and Bully/Victim

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Grande Ballroom A, B, and C (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Paul Sterzing, MSSW, Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Wendy Auslander, PhD, Barbara A Bailey Professor of Social Work, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Bullying victimization is a profound public health problem disproportionately affecting sexual minority youths (SMY) in comparison to general adolescents. The general adolescent literature has long identified that youths assume different roles in bullying: bully, victim, and bully/victim. Little research exists that explores the full range of bullying involvement for SMY. This is an important research gap, as youths who are bully/victims have been found to have increased mental health and academic problems in comparison to those who assume the role of bully or victim only. Utilizing a community-based sample of SMY, this poster presentation will address the following research questions: (1) What is the frequency of bullying perpetration and victimization by type (verbal, relational, electronic, and physical) within the last school year, (2) What are the estimates for bullying involvement by the roles of bully, victim, and bully/victim, and (3) How do these estimates compare to nationally representative rates of bullying involvement for general adolescents?

METHODS: The study utilized a risk and resiliency theoretical framework and a cross-sectional, quantitative design. Structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 125 SMY. The participants were recruited from two community-based organizations located in the Midwest. Eligibility criteria included 15-19 years old, self-identification as non-heterosexual, and currently not living in foster care. Four types of bullying perpetration and victimization were measured using the Swearer Bullying Survey. Bullying perpetration and victimization were recoded into bully only, victim only, and bully/victim. Assignment to one of these three roles was determined by examining the participant’s frequency of bullying involvement across all four types. SMY were classified as bully/victims if they had a moderate (monthly) or frequent (weekly to daily) involvement in both perpetration and victimization.

RESULTS: The majority of SMY reported bullying others in their lifetime (82.4%) and within the last school year (48.0%). Similarly, 93.6% of SMY reported being victims of bullying in their lifetime and 75.2% within the last school year. The most common type of bullying was verbal with 7.2% and 31.2% reporting frequent (weekly to daily) bullying perpetration and victimization, respectively. Nationally representative estimates indicated 29.9% of general adolescents had moderate (monthly) to frequent (weekly to daily) involvement as the bully (13.0%), victim (10.6%) or bully/victim (6.3%). The current study found 63.2% of SMY had moderate to frequent involvement as the bully (4.8%), victim (46.4%), or bully/victim (12.0%).

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study contributes to the literature by providing estimates for the full range of bullying involvement for SMY. In comparison to nationally representative rates on bullying involvement for general adolescents, a substantially higher percentage of SMY assumed the role of victim (more than 4x higher) and bully/victim (approximately 2x higher). A smaller percentage of SMY, however, reported playing the role of bully (approximately 3x lower). Next steps include examining mental health and academic outcomes for SMY across these three bullying involvement roles. This research is important, as no one has examined the needs of the potentially more vulnerable subgroup of bully/victims among SMY.