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Longitudinal Relations between Bullying Perpetration, Sexual Harassment, Homophobic Taunting, and Dating Violence: Evidence of Heterotypic Continuity


Although evidence suggests that the perpetration of bullying, sexual harassment, homophobic taunting, and dating violence co-occur, there is a dearth of longitudinal research that considers these four forms of interpersonal aggression together. Using a developmental cascade model, the current study examined the longitudinal development of aggressive and controlling behavior over time and the moderating role of gender beginning in pre-adolescence to the transition to young adulthood. Data were from a sample of 608 Canadian adolescents (55% girls/women; 64% white) assessed annually from age 10 (Grade 5) to age 19 using self-reports. Bullying perpetration was stable across adolescence and predicted the perpetration of sexual harassment, homophobic taunting, and dating violence at age 19. No gender differences were found. The findings support a model of heterotypic continuity, whereby stability in bullying beginning in pre-adolescence is related to involvement in multiple forms of aggression in young adulthood; aggression changes as individuals develop.

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Authors’ Contributions

TH performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; TV conceived of, and created the design of the study, participated in the interpretation of the data, and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The data that support the findings of this study are available from Tracy Vaillancourt, Principal Investigator on the McMaster Teen Study, but restrictions may apply to the availability of the data, which were used under license for the current study. Data are available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of Tracy Vaillancourt.

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Correspondence to Tracy Vaillancourt.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study has maintained ethical approval through McMaster University’s Research Ethics Board from 2008 to 2011 (approval number 2006 166) and through University of Ottawa’s Research Ethics Board from 2011 to 2016 (approval number 08-11-03) and 2017—present (approval number 078-11-03B).

Informed Consent

Youth and parents were asked for written assent and consent respectively to participate in the study at each time point until Time 6, when participants were in Grade 10. From this point forward, youth participants provided their own written consent.

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Humphrey, T., Vaillancourt, T. Longitudinal Relations between Bullying Perpetration, Sexual Harassment, Homophobic Taunting, and Dating Violence: Evidence of Heterotypic Continuity. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1976–1986 (2020).

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