Skip to main content

Cumulative Bullying Experiences, Adolescent Behavioral and Mental Health, and Academic Achievement: An Integrative Model of Perpetration, Victimization, and Bystander Behavior

Abstract

Bullying is often ongoing during middle- and high-school. However, limited research has examined how cumulative experiences of victimization, perpetration, and bystander behavior impact adolescent behavioral and mental health and academic achievement outcomes at the end of high school. The current study used a sample of over 8000 middle- and high-school students (51% female; mean age 12.5 years) from the Rural Adaptation Project in North Carolina to investigate how cumulative experiences as a bullying victim and perpetrator over 5 years, and cumulative experiences of bystander behavior over 2 years impacted students’ aggression, internalizing symptoms, academic achievement, self-esteem, and future optimism. Following multiple imputation, analysis included a Structural Equation Model with excellent model fit. Findings indicate that cumulative bullying victimization was positively associated with aggression and internalizing symptoms, and negatively associated with self-esteem and future optimism. Cumulative bullying perpetration was positively associated with aggression and negatively associated with future optimism. Cumulative negative bystander behavior was positively associated with aggression and internalizing symptoms and negatively associated with academic achievement and future optimism. Cumulative prosocial bystander behavior was positively associated with internalizing symptoms, academic achievement, self-esteem, and future optimism. This integrative model brings together bullying dynamics to provide a comprehensive picture of implications for adolescent behavioral and mental health and academic achievement.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for ASEBA school-age forms and profiles. Burlington, VT: Univ. of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth & Families.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, K. B., & Graham, L. M. (2007). Hostile attribution bias. In R. F. Baumesiter & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 445–446). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Atav, S., & Spencer, G. A. (2002). Health risk behaviors among adolescents attending rural, suburban,and urban schools: A comparative study. Family and Community Health, 17(12), 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1097/00003727-200207000-00007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bowen, G. L., & Richman, J. M. (2008). The school success profile.. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bowen, G. L., Rose, R. A., & Bowen, N. K. (2005). The reliability and validity of the school success profile. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Camodeca, M., Goossens, F. A., Terwogt, M. M., & Schuengel, C. (2002). Bullying and Victimization Among School-age Children: Stability and Links to Proactive and Reactive Aggression. Social Development, 11, 332–345. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00203.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Camodeca, M., & Goossens, F. A. (2005). Aggression, social cognitions, anger, and sadness in bullies and victims. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(2), 186–197. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00347.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 65(6), 1–174.

  9. Clifford, M. A. (2015). Teaching restorative practices with classroom circles. San Francisco, CA: Center for Restorative Process.

  10. Colorado Trust (2014). The Colorado trust bullying prevention initiative student survey. http://www.coloradotrust.org/atta1068_chments/0002/1691/BPI_Student_Survey_no-copyright.pdf.

  11. Cotter, K. L., Smokowski, P. R., & Evans, C. B. R. (2014). Contextual predictors of perception of school danger for rural youth: Baseline results from the Rural Adaptation Project. Children & Schools, 37, 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1093/cs/cdu021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Copeland, W. E., Wolke, D., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2013). Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 419–426. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Copeland, W. E., Wolke, D., Lereya, S. T., Shanahan, L., Worthman, C., & Costello, E. J. (2014). Childhood bullying involvement predicts low-trade system inflammation into adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(21), 7570–7575. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1323641111.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Crick, N. & Dodge, K. (1996). Social information-processing mechanisms in reactive and proactive aggression. Child Development, 8, 128–131. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN/%291467-8624.

    Google Scholar 

  15. David-Ferdon, C., Vivolo-Kantor, A., Dahlberg, L. L., Marshall, K., Rainford, N., & Hall, J. (2016). A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  16. de Bruyn, E. H., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Wissink, I. B. (2010). Associations of peer acceptance and perceived popularity with bullying and victimization in early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 3D, 543–566. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431609340517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dulmus, C. N., Theriot, M. T., Sowers, K. M., & Blackburn, J. A. (2004). Student reports of peer bullying victimization in a rural school. Stress, Trauma, and Crisis, 7, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/15434610490281093.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ellis, B. J., Volk, A. A., Gonzalez, J. M., & Embry, D. D. (2016). The meaningful roles intervention: An evolutionary approach to reducing bullying and increasing prosocial behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26, 622–637. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12243.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Ellis, B. J., Bianchi, J. M., Griskevicius, & Frankenhuis, W. E. (2017). Beyond risk and protective factors: An adaptation-based approach to resilience. Perspectives on Psychological Science, XX, 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617693054.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Evans, C. B. R., Fraser, M. W., & Cotter, K. L. (2014). The effectiveness of school-based bullying prevention programs: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 532–544. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.07.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Evans, C. B. R., & Smokowski, P. R. (2017). Negative bystander behavior in bullying dynamics: Assessing the impact of social capital deprivation and anti-social capital. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 48(1), 120–135. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-016-0657-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Evans, C. B. R., Smokowski, P. R., & Cotter, K. L. (2014). Cumulative bullying victimization: An investigation of the dose response relationship between victimization and the association of mental health outcomes, social supports, and school experiences of rural adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 44, 256–264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.06.021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Farrington, D. P., & Ttofi, M. (2011). Bullying as a predictor of offending, violence, and later life outcomes. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 21(2), 90–98. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbm.801.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Gini, G., & Pozzoli, T. (2013). Bullied children and psychosomatic problems: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 132(4), 720–729. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-0614.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Goldweber, A., Waasdorp, T., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2013). Examining associations between race, urbanicity, and patterns of bullying involvement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 206–219. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9843-y.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Greenland, S., & Pearce, N. (2015). Statistical foundations for model-based adjustments. Annual Review of Public Health, 18, 89–108. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122559.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hawley, P. H. (2003). Prosocial and coercive configurations of resource control in early adolescence: A case for the well-adapted Machiavellian. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49(3), 279–309. https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.2003.0013.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hoyle, R. H. (2012). Introduction and overview. In R. H. Hoyle (Ed.), Handbook of structural equation modeling (pp. 3–16). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705519909540118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Janson, G. R., & Hazler, R. J. (2004). Trauma reactions of bystanders and victims to repetitive abuse experiences. Violence and Victims, 19(2), 239–255. https://doi.org/10.1891/vivi.19.2.239.64102.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Juvonen, J., Wang, Y., & Espinoza, G. (2011). Bullying experiences and compromised academic performance across middle school grades. Journal of Early Adolescence, 31(1), 152–173. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431610379415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Loeber, R., & Burke, J. D. (2011). Developmental pathways in juvenile externalizing and internalizing problems. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 34–46. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00713.x.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. Molnar-Main, S. (2014). Integrating bullying prevention and restorative practices in schools: Considerations for practitioners and policymakers. Center for Safe Schools. http://www.safeschools.info/content/BPRPWhitePaper2014.pdf.

  34. Nakamoto, J., & Schwartz, D. (2009). Is peer victimization associated with academic achievement? A meta-analytic review. Social Development, 19(2), 221–242. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00539.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Niemela, S., Brunstein-Klomek, A., Sillanmaki, L., Helenius, H., Piha, J., Kumpulainen, K., & Sourander, A. (2011). Childhood bullying behaviors at age eight and substance use at age 18 among males: A nationwide prospective study. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 256–260. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.10.012.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Pollastri, A. R., Cardemil, E. V., & O’Donnell, E. H. (2009). Self-esteem in pure bullies and bully/victims: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 1489–1502. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260509354579.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Rivara, F. & Le Menestral, S. (Eds.) (2016). Preventing bullying through science, policy, and practice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Rivers, I., & Noret, N. (2013). Potential suicide ideation and its association with observing bullying at school. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, S32–S36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.10.279.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Rivers, I., Poteat, V. P., Noret, N., & Ashurst, N. (2009). Observing bullying at school: The mental health implications of witness status. School Psychology Quarterly, 24(4), 211–223. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  42. Salmivalli, C., Lagerspetz, K., Bjorkqvist, K., Osterman, K., & Kaukiainen, A. (1996). Bullying as a group process: Participant roles and their relations to social status within the group. Aggressive Behavior, 22, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Smokowski, P. R., Guo, S., Wu, Q., Evans, C. B. R., Cotter, K. L., & Bacallao, M. (2016a). Evaluating dosage effects for the positive action program: How implementation impacts internalizing symptoms, aggression, school hassles, and self-esteem. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(3), 310–322. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000167.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Smokowski, P. R., Guo, S., Evans, C. B. R., Wu, Q., Rose, R. A., Bacallao, M., & Cotter, K. L. (2016b). Risk and protective factors across multiple microsystems associated with internalizing symptoms and aggressive behavior in rural adolescents: Modeling longitudinal trajectories from the Rural Adaptation Project. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000163. Online first.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Smokowski, P. R., Evans, C. B. R., & Cotter, K. L. (2014). The effects of victimization on the school experiences, social support, and mental health of rural adolescents. Violence and Victims, 29(6), 1029–1046. https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-13-00076.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Smokwoski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R., Wing, H., Bower, M., Bacallao, M., & Barbee, J. (2018). Implementing school based youth courts in a rural context: Making schools safer by interrupting the school to prison pipeline. Children and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 35(2), 127–138.

  47. Stockdale, M. S., Hangaduambo, S., Duys, D., Larson, K., & Sarvela, P. D. (2002). Rural elementary students’, parents’, and teachers’ perceptions of bullying. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26, 266–277. https://doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.26.4.3.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., Losel, F., & Loeber, R. (2011a). Do victims of school bullies tend to become depressed later in life? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 3(11), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1108/17596591111132873.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., Losel, F., & Loeber, R. (2011b). The predictive efficiency of school bullying versus later offending: A systematic/meta-analytic review of longitudinal studies. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 21, 80–89. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbm.808.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Turner, M. B., Exum, M. L., Brame, R., & Holt, T. J. (2013). Bullying victimization and adolescent mental health: General and typological effects across sex. Journal of Criminal Justice, 41(1), 53–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2012.12.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Vaillancourt, T., Hymel, S., & McDougall, P. (2003). Bullying is power: Implications for school-based intervention strategies. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19(2), 157–176. https://doi.org/10.1300/J008v19n02_10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Volk, A., Camilleri, J., Dane, A., & Marini, Z. (2012). Is adolescent bullying an evolutionary adaptation? Aggressive Behavior, 38, 222–238. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21418.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Waddell, W. J. (2010). History of dose–response. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 35(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.2131/jts.35.1.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Willging, C. E., Quintero, G. A., & Lilliott, E. A. (2014). Hitting the wall: Youth perspectives on boredom, trouble, and drug use dynamics in rural New Mexico. Youth & Society, 46(1), 3–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X11423231.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Witherspoon, D., & Ennett, S. (2011). Stability and change in rural youths’ educational outcomes through the middle and high school years. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(9), 1077–1090. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9614-6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Wolke, D., & Lereya, S. T. (2015). Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(9), 879–885. https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2014-306667.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  57. Wolke, D., Tippett, N., & Dantchev, S. (2015). Bullying in the family: Sibling bullying. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2, 917–929. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00262-X.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Yeager, D. S., Fong, C. J., Lee, H. Y., & Espelage, D. L. (2015). Declines in efficacy of anti-bullying programs among older adolescents: Theory and a three-level meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 37, 36–51. https://doi.org/10.1016.j.appdev.2014.11.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

The study was funded by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (5 U01 CE001948-03 and 16IPA1605209) and the Developing Knowledge About What Makes Schools Safer grant through the National Institute for Justice (NIJ-20143878). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Author Contributions

C.B.R.E.: conducted the majority of the data analysis and wrote drafts of the paper. P.R.S.: conceptualized the study and collaborated on writing the paper. R.A.R.: assisted with the data analysis and collaborated on writing the paper. M.C.M.: collaborated on writing the paper. K.J.M.: collaborated on writing the paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Caroline B. R. Evans.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

Procedures 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. The Institutional Review Board of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill approved this study.

Informed Consent

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

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Evans, C.B.R., Smokowski, P.R., Rose, R.A. et al. Cumulative Bullying Experiences, Adolescent Behavioral and Mental Health, and Academic Achievement: An Integrative Model of Perpetration, Victimization, and Bystander Behavior. J Child Fam Stud 28, 2415–2428 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1078-4

Download citation

KeyWords

  • Bullying
  • Victimization
  • Perpetration
  • Bystander Behavior
  • Adolescence