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Patterns of Bullying and Sexual Harassment: Connections with Parents and Teachers as Direct Protective Factors

Abstract

Involvement in bullying and sexual harassment in adolescence is associated with a variety of internalizing, externalizing, and health-risk behaviors. Yet, the two behaviors are often studied independently. The current study examined how bullying and sexual harassment co-occur and whether social connections protected youth from risk patterns. The data for this study come from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey (N = 121,311; 50% female, 74% White, 26% received free or reduced-price lunch; M age = 14.9, SD = 1.3). Students reported on bullying and sexual harassment victimization and perpetration. Using latent class analysis, youth were classified into five patterns: High-Risk of All Forms of Victimization and Perpetration (7%), Relational and Cyberbullying Victimization (17%), Sexual Harassment Victimization and Perpetration (8%), Physical Bullying Perpetration (6%), and Low-Risk (62%). Compared to the low-risk class, the four other classes had lower levels of social connections, particularly with teachers and parents. Older youth (9th and 11th grade students) were at greater risk for the sexual harassment pattern, while younger youth (8th grade students) were at greater risk for bullying patterns. The results indicate that efforts to reduce bullying should also address sexual harassment and social connections with adults.

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Funding

Dr. Doty was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice, HRSA, HHS, the Bureau of Health Workforce, or the U.S. Government.

Authors’ Contributions

J.D. lead the conceptualization of the study, conducted the analysis, and drafted the manuscript; A.G. contributed to the analytic design, and participated in drafting and revising the manuscript; J.R. participated in drafting parts of the manuscript, and revised the manuscript; B.M. contributed to the analytic design and revised the manuscript; I.B. contributed to the analytic design and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jennifer L. Doty.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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The Institutional Review Board determined that the secondary data analysis in this study was exempt from IRB review.

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Consent was obtained through passive parental consent procedures in accordance with federal law.

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Doty, J.L., Gower, A.L., Rudi, J.H. et al. Patterns of Bullying and Sexual Harassment: Connections with Parents and Teachers as Direct Protective Factors. J Youth Adolescence 46, 2289–2304 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0698-0

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Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Sexual harassment
  • Prevention
  • Parents
  • Teachers