Abstract: Father-to-Son: Factors Associated with Childhood Bullying Perpetration (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

464P Father-to-Son: Factors Associated with Childhood Bullying Perpetration

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Shawndaya Thrasher, PhD, Research Assistant/PhD Student, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Keith J. Watts, PhD, Doctoral Student, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Background/Purpose: Bullying is a serious public health problem that negatively affects millions of children annually. Studies conclude boys tend to adopt favorable views of aggression and are more likely to bully others than girls, which is associated with increased risks for poor mental health, violence, and later offending. Yet, factors that may protect them from perpetrating bullying are understudied. Studies conclude parental involvement decreases children's risks of bullying behaviors. However, these findings have focused mainly on mothers. Little is known about the role of fathers’ involvement in decreasing bullying perpetration. Given research emphasizes the importance of fathers' active involvement in healthy child development, especially for boys, this exploratory study sought to examine if paternal involvement decreases the risks of bullying behavior.

Methods: Data and Sample: An analytic sample of 637 boys from the Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study, was derived from wave 5 when the focal child was 9-10 years of age.

Measures: Paternal measures assessed how often in the past month fathers did the following with the child; helped with homework/school assignments, talked about current events and played video/computer games. Likert scale responses included 0 “not in the past month”, 1 “1-2 times a past month”, 3 “once a week”, 4 “several times a week”, and 5 “every day.” Given the skewed distribution of data, variables were dichotomously recoded with “1-2 times and not in the past month” as 0 and all other responses as 1.

Neither boys self-reported nor parents reported child’s bullying perpetration behaviors; therefore, this measure was assessed by teachers. Teachers reported whether focal child bullies/threatens others. Responses ranged from 1 “never” to 4 “very often”. Given the skewed distribution of data, a dichotomous variable was created with “never” as 0 and all other responses as 1, indicating bullied/threatened others. Father’s poverty level and child self-report of bullying victimization was entered into the model as covariates.

Results: Logistic regression analysis concludes fathers who helped with homework (OR=.699, p<.001) and talk to their sons about current events (OR=.591, p<.001) once or more a week decreased the likelihood of them bullying/threatening others than boys whose fathers did not. Interestingly, boys whose fathers played video/computer games with them once or more a week were nearly 1.5 times more likely to bully/threaten others than fathers who did not (OR=1.450, p<.001). Regarding covariates, experiences of bullying victimization increased the likelihood of boys bullying others (OR=2.086, p<.001). Sons of fathers above the in/near poverty threshold were less likely to bully/threaten others than sons of fathers in/near poverty (OR=.692, p< .001). The model correctly classified 70.5% of the cases and explained 10.4% of the variance in boys bullying perpetration.

Conclusion and Implications: Study findings point to the differential impact of the types of activities that fathers engage in with their sons (e.g., video/games). These findings underscore the significant role of fathers in the care and healthy development of their sons. Anti-bullying prevention/intervention strategies must support the involvement of fathers and ensure they are included in their design.