Methods: Data were used for all Latinx youth from the 2011-2019 biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) from 44 states (N=128,764). The YRBS contains two self-reported items related to bullying victimization, both in-school and cyber, and sociodemographic information. A dichotomous (yes/no) outcome variable was created indicating any bullying victimization. Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures were used to create seven state-level immigrant-related policies: in-state college tuition, financial aid for college, eligibility for healthcare coverage, mandating culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) trainings for healthcare providers, driver licenses, eligibility for workers’ compensation, and banning the use of eVerify for employment. Policies were dichotomized as 1 if the state explicitly included immigrants and 0 if the state either did not address the issue or explicitly excluded (undocumented) immigrants. We used a difference-in-differences (DiD) logistic regression model to evaluate the impact of state immigration policies on bullying victimization by controlling for sociodemographics and state- and year-fixed effects.
Results: The implementation of policies enabling healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants reduced the odds of bullying victimization by 53% (p<0.001). The implementation of policies banning employers from using eVerify to established residency reduced the odds of bullying victimization by 47% (p<0.001). Conversely, allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for financial aid and in-state tuition resulted in a 79% (p=0.020) and 22% (p=0.005) increase in the odds of reporting bullying victimization, respectively. Mandating CLAS trainings, eligibility for workers’ compensation, and driver license laws did not significantly impact bullying victimization.
Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that state-level immigrant-inclusionary policies have differential effects on self-reported bullying victimization by Latinx youth. The use of a DiD model allows for plausible causal inferences to be made using repeated cross-sections of state-representative data. Furthermore, results suggest these effects apply to all Latinx youth, not just those who are foreign-born. The disturbing results regarding the effects of inclusive higher education policies may represent a xenophobic backlash towards Latinx youth, particularly given that concerns about college may be especially salient to adolescent peers. Social workers, schools and other relevant service providers should consider anti-bullying and anti-bias policies and interventions, monitor and provide psychosocial support to Latinx youth who are victims of bullying, and advocate for immigrant protections.