Methods: We used data from the 5th and 6th wave of the longitudinal Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. An analytic sample of 1,589 focal children residing with single mothers living between 0-199% FPL was used to employ a structural equation model (SEM) examining the relationships between bully victimization at age 9 and delinquent behavior at age 15. Peer bullying victimization was assessed by 4 self-report items gauging frequency of child bullying victimization in the last past month among school and/or neighborhood peers (e.g., “hit/tease you”). Delinquent behavior was assessed using 11-items asking about the frequency of violent and nonviolent behaviors in the past 12-months (e.g., “gotten into a serious physical fight, sold marijuana/other drugs.) Univariate analyses were performed using SPSS v24 and SEM was performed using MPlus v 8.0.
Results: Both the measurement and structural models yielded acceptable fit (x288=193.963 [p<.001], RMSEA=0.028 [CI 0.023-0.033], CFI= 0.983, TLI=0.979, WRMR=1.099). Peer bullying victimization positively influenced delinquent behavior such that for everyone unit increase in peer bullying victimization, there was a 0.193 unit increase (p<0.001) in delinquent behavior.
Conclusion/Implications: Findings suggest child bullied victims living with single mothers who reside in or near poverty (i.e. 0-199% FPL) increases their susceptibility to subsequent adolescent offending behavior. It may be that children residing with mothers who experience financial stress and have less built-in support may negatively impact parent-child interactions. It may also be possible that children living in such families have less resources available to address bullying victimization as well as any resulting traumatic experiences. Thus, prevention and intervention strategies must target these families to further explore and address the casual relationship between child bullying victimization and subsequent adolescent offending behavior. Social work practitioners, researchers and policy makers should also consider the additional resources these families may need (e.g. counseling services) given their economic limitations.