JOURNAL ARTICLE

School bullying among adolescents in the United States: physical, verbal, relational, and cyber

Jing Wang, Ronald J Iannotti, Tonja R Nansel
Journal of Adolescent Health 2009, 45 (4): 368-75
19766941

PURPOSE: Four forms of school bullying behaviors among US adolescents and their association with sociodemographic characteristics, parental support, and friends were examined.

METHODS: Data were obtained from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) 2005 Survey, a nationally representative sample of grades 6-10 (N = 7,182). The revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire was used to measure physical, verbal, and relational forms of bullying. Two items were added using the same format to measure cyber bullying. For each form, four categories were created: bully, victim, bully-victim, and not involved. Multinomial logistic regressions were applied, with sociodemographic variables, parental support, and number of friends as predictors.

RESULTS: Prevalence rates of having bullied others or having been bullied at school for at least once in the last 2 months were 20.8% physically, 53.6% verbally, 51.4% socially, or 13.6% electronically. Boys were more involved in physical or verbal bullying, whereas girls were more involved in relational bullying. Boys were more likely to be cyber bullies, whereas girls were more likely to be cyber victims. African-American adolescents were involved in more bullying (physical, verbal, or cyber) but less victimization (verbal or relational). Higher parental support was associated with less involvement across all forms and classifications of bullying. Having more friends was associated with more bullying and less victimization for physical, verbal, and relational forms but was not associated with cyber bullying.

CONCLUSIONS: Parental support may protect adolescents from all four forms of bullying. Friends associate differentially with traditional and cyber bullying. Results indicate that cyber bullying is a distinct nature from that of traditional bullying.

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