Purpose: Although bullying is recognized as a serious problem in the United States, little is known about racial/ethnic differences in bullying risk. This study examined associations between bullying and family, peer, and school relations for white, black and Hispanic adolescents.
Methods: A nationally representative sample (n = 11,033) of adolescents in grades six to ten participated in the 2001 Health Behaviors in School-Aged Children survey, self-reporting bullying involvement and information on family, peer and school relations. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression analyses controlling for gender, age and affluence were stratified by race/ethnicity.
Results: Nine percent of respondents were victims of bullying, 9% were bullies, and 3% were bully-victims. Black adolescents reported a significantly lower prevalence of victimization than white and Hispanic students. Multivariate results indicated modest racial/ethnic variation in associations between bullying and family, peer, and school factors. Parental communication, social isolation, and classmate relationships were similarly related to bullying across racial/ethnic groups. Living with two biological parents was protective against bullying involvement for white students only. Furthermore, although school satisfaction and performance were negatively associated with bullying involvement for white and Hispanic students, school factors were largely unrelated to bullying among black students.
Conclusions: Although school attachment and performance were inconsistently related to bullying behavior across race/ethnicity, bullying behaviors are consistently related to peer relationships across black, white, and Hispanic adolescents. Negative associations between family communication and bullying behaviors for white, black, and Hispanic adolescents suggest the importance of addressing family interactions in future bullying prevention efforts.