General and Ethnic-Biased Bullying Among Latino Students: Exploring Risks of Depression, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use


Using a cross-sectional sample of 534 Latino students from middle and high schools in a large North Carolina school district, we examined the relation of general and ethnic-biased bullying to depression and the indirect pathways through depression to suicidal ideation and substance use outcomes. A structural equation model tested the direct and indirect paths. The final model fit was excellent, χ2(90) = 127.6, p = .0056, RMSEA = 0.028, CFI = 0.974, TLI = 0.961. Ethnic-biased and verbal or relational bullying had a direct effect on depression, but general and physical bullying did not. Indirect effects through depression were found for ethnic-biased and verbal or relational bullying in relation to suicidal ideation, alcohol, and illicit drug use. Child nativity was marginally associated with ethnic-biased bullying, indicating foreign-born students may experience greater ethnic-biased bullying. Implications for future research and bullying prevention are discussed.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    The original sample included 4150 youth. However, inconsistent responders such as participants who: (a) endorsed lifetime or 30-day use of a fictitious drug, (b) endorsed 30-day use but did not endorse lifetime use, (c) stated their age of initiation of a given substance was greater than their initial age, and (d) had data missing on all outcome variables (nondemographic variables) were removed from the sample.

  2. 2.

    With a directional hypothesis, the path between nativity and ethnic-biased bullying would be significant, p = .035.

  3. 3.

    With a directional hyptothesis, the indirect effect of child nativity on depression through ethnic-biased bullying would also be significant, p = .045.


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Correspondence to Jodi Berger Cardoso.

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Cardoso, J.B., Szlyk, H.S., Goldbach, J. et al. General and Ethnic-Biased Bullying Among Latino Students: Exploring Risks of Depression, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use. J Immigrant Minority Health 20, 816–822 (2018).

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  • Bullying
  • Ethnic-biased bullying
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Substance use
  • New immigrant destinations