Method: Data were collected between August 2013 and January 2014, and the participants consisted of 639 African American adolescents (ages 13-21) from low-income communities in Chicago’s Southside. Of these, 45.5% were males and 54.2% females, with 74.6% receiving government assistance. Cross-sectional research design was used. Analyses included descriptive statistics, correlational analyses, and path model using the Structure Equation Model (SEM). Controlling for biological sex, age, and government assistance, the following hypotheses are proposed: (1) exposure to community violence is associated with an increase in the risk of bully perpetration (direct effect), and (2) antisocial behaviors, exposure to peer delinquency, and drug use might mediate the link between exposure to community violence and bully perpetration (indirect effects).
Results: The study found that African American adolescents who were exposed to community violence were likely to display antisocial behaviors and be exposed to peer delinquency. One significant indirect path was indicated: exposure to community violence is associated with antisocial behaviors, which in turn is associated with bully perpetration (β = .174, CI = .011 ~ .336). In other words, youth who are exposed to community violence are likely to display antisocial behaviors, which can increase the likelihood of bullying behavior.
Conclusion and Implications: Urban African American adolescents who are exposed to community violence have more opportunities to engage in antisocial behaviors; antisocial behaviors in turn can heighten their risk of becoming a bully. These findings suggest that the implementation of anti-bullying prevention programs needs to consider African American adolescents’ problem behaviors. To develop an effective anti-bullying programs for urban African American adolescents, researchers, practitioners, and educators need to consider the complex mechanisms (e.g., culturally relevant contexts, socioeconomic status, adolescents’ characteristics, behaviors, and community resources). Impoverished urban communities have a high percentage of African American students living with a single parent, grandparents, or other caregivers. Single-parents might be limited in their ability to monitor their children’s behaviors. Thus, it is imperative that practitioners closely assess adolescents’ problematic behaviors and their peer relationships. For adolescents with behavioral problems associated with bully victimization, social workers might consider cost-effective treatment, such as the socioemotional learning program or solution-focused brief therapy, which can reduce the risk of engaging in aggressive behavior. These programs are not only cost-effective, but also demonstrated efficacy across various racial and ethnic groups.