Demographic differences in the prevalence, co-occurrence, and correlates of adolescent bullying at school

J Sch Health. 2007 Nov;77(9):623-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2007.00242.x.


Background: Despite a large literature on bullying, few studies simultaneously examine different dimensions of the phenomenon or consider how they vary by demographic characteristics. As a result, research findings in this area have been inconsistent. This article focuses on 2 dimensions of bullying behaviors--aggression and victimization--and examines demographic variation in their prevalence, co-occurrence, and association with other health outcomes.

Methods: School-based surveys were administered to a census of 6th-12th graders in 16 school districts across a large metropolitan area in the United States (n = 79,492). A 2-factor scale assessed repeated experiences with bullying aggression and victimization.

Results: Both dimensions of bullying tended to be more common among younger, male, African American and Native American students. There were, however, several exceptions as well as considerable variation in the magnitude of demographic differences. Most youth involved with bullying were either perpetrators or victims, but not both. For example, only 7.4% of all youths were classified as bully/victims. Substance use was more strongly associated with aggression, whereas depressive affect was more strongly associated with victimization.

Conclusions: Researchers should distinguish different dimensions of bullying and consider how they vary by demographic characteristics. In particular, repeated aggression and victimization largely involve different students and may require distinct approaches to prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • African Americans
  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Crime Victims*
  • Demography
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Peer Group*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data