Abstract: I Am My Daughter's Keeper: Paternal Involvement and Social Bullying Victimization (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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319P I Am My Daughter's Keeper: Paternal Involvement and Social Bullying Victimization

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Shawndaya Thrasher, MSW, MA, Research Assistant/PhD Student, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Ijeoma Opara, PhD, MPH, MSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work, State University of New York at Stony Brook, NY
Keith J. Watts, MSW, Doctoral Student, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Bryant Thrasher, AAS, Student, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Background/Purpose: Bullying is a public health problem that negatively affects millions of children annually. While girls are particularly more likely to be victims of social bullying (e.g., being left out/excluded), which has been associated with increased risk for emotional distress and mental help problems, factors that protect against social bullying have been underexplored in research literature. Though parental factors such as responsiveness and warmth decrease the risk of child bullying victimization, these findings have focused primarily on mothers. However, less is known about the influence of fathers in decreasing risks of bullying victimization. Given that research points to the importance of a father’s active involvement in family functioning and the healthy development of a child, especially girls, this study sought to examine if paternal involvement may decrease experiences of social bullying.

Methods: Data and Sample: An analytic sample of 913 girls between the ages of 9-10 at the 9-year follow-up wave was drawn from the longitudinal birth cohort Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study.

Measure: Paternal involvement measures were assessed by asking fathers “how often in the past month” they helped their child with homework/school assignments, watched tv/videos, participated in indoor activities, and talked with child about their day. Likert scale responses included, 0 “not in the past month”, 1 “1-2 times past month”, 2 “once a week”, 3 “several times a week”, and 4 “everyday”. Due to the skewed distribution of the data variables were dichotomously recoded: “not in the past month” and “1-2 times in past month” as 0 and all other responses as 1. Social bullying victimization was measured by child’s self-reports of how often in the past month they were excluded, “purposely left out of activities” in school/neighborhood using a 5-point Likert response format ranging from 0 “not once in the past month” to 4 “everyday”. Responses were dichotomously recoded: never (0) and yes (1) socially bullied. Father’s poverty level, education, and physical bullying (yes/no) were included as covariates.

Results: Binary logistic regression model showed that fathers who watched tv/videos several times to everyday a week compared to fathers who did not is associated with a 63.6% decrease in the likelihood of their daughters being socially bullied (OR =.636; p <.05). Interestingly, fathers helping with homework, participating in indoor activities, and talking daily with daughters was not significant (p. > .05). Regarding covariates, only physical bullying was statistically significant; girls who were physically bullied compared to their non-bullied counterparts were also 4.4 times more likely to be socially bullied (OR= 4.43 p <.001). The model explains 11.2% of the variance in social bullying victimization [R2 =.112, p. <.001], and overall predicts 72.7% of the responses correctly.

Conclusion and Implications: Our findings highlight the important role of fathers’ involvement in safeguarding their daughter’s healthy development. Implications from this study encourage child anti-bullying strategies and prevention efforts to include fathers and gender-specific messaging into their design, with a core focus on strengthening positive father-daughter interaction.