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Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3331–3341 | Cite as

Perceived Social Support and Mental Health among First-Year College Students with Histories of Bullying Victimization

  • Gerald M. Reid
  • Melissa K. HoltEmail author
  • Chelsey E. Bowman
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
  • Jennifer Greif Green
Original Paper

Abstract

Although childhood bullying victimization is associated with adult depression and anxiety, the majority of previously bullied youth do not develop psychopathology. Identifying protective factors has implications for designing interventions that can support a successful adjustment to emerging adulthood. In this study, we investigate whether perceived social support protects against depression and anxiety among first-year college students who had previously experienced bullying. We collected data from 1474 first-year college students attending four large universities across the United States. Students completed a web-based survey in fall 2012 (Wave 1) and 436 (29.5 %) participated in a follow-up survey in spring 2013 (Wave 2). Participants reported on childhood bullying victimization, current depression and anxiety, and current social support (overall and from family, friends, and significant others). Results indicated that a history of childhood bullying victimization was positively associated with depression and anxiety in both fall and spring. Further, overall social support reported in fall moderated the association between childhood bullying victimization and fall and spring anxiety. Also, higher levels of perceived family support, in particular, buffered previously bullied students’ risk for spring anxiety. Results suggest that perceptions of familial social support during the initial adjustment to college may protect previously bullied first-year students from anxiety during their adjustment to college. Research and clinical implications, study limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Keywords

Bullying College adjustment Depression Anxiety Perceived social support 

Notes

Funding

The study was not funded by a grant. Incentives for participation were funded by the Boston University School of Education.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald M. Reid
    • 1
  • Melissa K. Holt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chelsey E. Bowman
    • 1
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
    • 2
  • Jennifer Greif Green
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Counseling Psychology and Human Development, School of EducationBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Child Development, College of EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Special Education, School of EducationBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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