Examination of the change in latent statuses in bullying behaviors across time

Sch Psychol Q. 2015 Mar;30(1):105-122. doi: 10.1037/spq0000082. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


Involvement in bullying and victimization has been mostly studied using cross-sectional data from 1 time point. As such, much of our understanding of bullying and victimization has not captured the dynamic experiences of youth over time. To examine the change of latent statuses in bullying and victimization, we applied latent transition analysis examining self-reported bullying involvement from 1,180 students in 5th through 9th grades across 3 time points. We identified unobserved heterogeneous subgroups (i.e., latent statuses) and investigated how students transition between the unobserved subgroups over time. For victimization, 4 latent statuses were identified: frequent victim (11.23%), occasional traditional victim (28.86%), occasional cyber and traditional victim (10.34%), and infrequent victim (49.57%). For bullying behavior, 3 latent statuses were identified: frequent perpetrator (5.12%), occasional verbal/relational perpetrator (26.04%), and infrequent perpetrator (68.84%). The characteristics of the transitions were examined. The multiple-group effects of gender, grade, and first language learned on transitions across statuses were also investigated. The infrequent victim and infrequent perpetrator groups were the most stable, and the frequent victim and frequent perpetrator groups were the least stable. These findings suggest instability in perpetration and victimization over time, as well as significant changes, especially during school transition years. Findings suggest that school-based interventions need to address the heterogeneity in perpetrator and victim experiences in adolescence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Crime Victims* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires