Not Just Black and White: Peer Victimization and the Intersectionality of School Diversity and Race

Abstract

Although bullying is a prevalent issue in the United States, limited research has explored the impact of school diversity on types of bullying behavior. This study explores the relationship between school diversity, student race, and bullying within the school context. The participants were African American and Caucasian middle school students (n = 4,581; 53.4 % female). Among the participants, 89.4 % were Caucasian and 10.6 % were African American. The research questions examined the relationship between school diversity, student race and bullying behaviors, specifically race-based victimization. The findings suggested that Caucasian middle school students experience more bullying than African American students generally, and specifically when minorities in school settings. Caucasian students also experienced almost three times the amount of race-based victimization than African American students when school diversity was held constant. Interestingly, African American students experienced twice the amount of race-based victimization than Caucasian students when in settings with more students of color. The present study provides insight into bullying behaviors across different contexts for different races and highlights the need to further investigate interactions between personal and environmental factors on the bulling experiences of youth.

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Acknowledgments

The authors do not have any interests or activities that might be interpreted as influencing the research submitted, and this study was conducted in accordance with APA ethical standards. This research has not been presented at a conference and is not under consideration for publication with any other journals.

Author contributions

The contribution of each author is as follows: SF conceived of the study, participated in the design, coordinated the written document, and helped draft the document; KM performed the statistical analysis and helped draft the document; ER contributed intellectually to the study and helped draft the document; CM contributed to the intellectual content of the written document and helped draft the document; CB contributed intellectually to the study and helped draft the document; JB contributed to the design, and coordination of the study and contributed intellectually to the ideas. All authors have given final approval of the version to be published.

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interests involved in the conduct of this research.

Ethical standard

Data collected for this study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board/ethnics committee at Michigan State University and the research has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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Correspondence to Sycarah Fisher.

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Fisher, S., Middleton, K., Ricks, E. et al. Not Just Black and White: Peer Victimization and the Intersectionality of School Diversity and Race. J Youth Adolescence 44, 1241–1250 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-014-0243-3

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Keywords

  • Bullying
  • School diversity
  • Race-based victimization