Methods: We explored this question using national data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study. The HBSC study was initiated by scholars from Finland, Norway, and the United Kingdom in 1982. The 2009-2010 HBSC study was conducted in 42 countries, including the United States. The total U.S. sample consisted of 12,642 students. For our study, we restricted the sample to adolescents, including early and middle adolescents, between the ages of 10 and 17 who identified as Latino/Hispanic (n = 3,349) and Asian American (n = 681). Of this sub-sample, 82% were U.S.-born and 18% were foreign-born based on self-reports. To examine the moderating effect of parental monitoring on the link between peer victimization and internalizing problems, we conducted hierarchical linear regression analyses separately for foreign-born and U.S.-born adolescents.
Results: After controlling for relevant covariates, the results showed that peer victimization was significantly related to internalizing problems among foreign-born adolescents. Participants who reported high levels of peer victimization were more likely to report internalizing problems (B = 0.66, 95% CI [0.41, 0.90]). In addition, participants who reported high levels of parental monitoring were less likely to report internalizing problems (B = -0.57, 95% CI [-0.82, -0.31]). The moderating effect of peer victimization and parental monitoring on internalizing problems among foreign-born adolescents was significant (B = -0.22, 95% CI [-0.49, -0.12]), but not among the US-born.
Implications: With the high rates of bullying in schools, and with evidence of the targeting of foreign-born adolescents, it is important to consider avenues amenable to change. Foreign-born adolescents whose parents monitor their children are less likely to exhibit internalizing problems when bullied. Actively capitalizing and building on the strengths of foreign-born families may offer a way not only of attenuating its negative effects but preventing further peer victimization. While few anti-bullying programs include an active parental component, our findings suggest that foreign-born families might benefit from involvement in school-based prevention efforts by helping to strengthen their communication with school staff.