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.
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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.
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.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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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
- Bystander Behavior