Date of Award

8-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

International Family and Community Studies

Advisor

Limber, Susan P

Committee Member

McDonell , James R

Committee Member

Melton , Gary B

Committee Member

Small , Mark A

Committee Member

Truong , Khoa

Abstract

Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior and a damaging experience that can violate a bullied child's civil and human rights. To understand and reduce bullying in U.S. schools, it is important to recognize students' self-reported experiences with and perceptions of bullying. This study responded to limited research on races/ethnicites and bullying among children and youth in U.S. schools, and to a relatively small focus on specific school-level variables (such as the densities of races/ethnicities in school, the school's ethnic diversity, the overall poverty level of the school, student/teacher ratio, and school locations) and several other variables of interest (such as the likelihood of joining in bullying, students' general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with school, and the size of a child's social networks, school safety) by bullying researchers.
This study utilized a combined data of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ) and the National Center for Education Statisitics (NCES) to examine the influence of races/ethnicities on bullying and generate multivariate regression models predicting bullying among 473,918 students attending 1,524 schools located in various communities in 45 states and the US Virgin Islands. Results revealed that students' races/ethnicities were significantly associated with peer victimization (being bullied) and bullying perpetration (bullying others) and on students' self-reported perceptions of how they liked school (i.e., general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with school), the likelihood of joining in bullying a student whom they did not like, how many friends they had in their class(es) (i.e., the size of a child's social networks in school), and how often they were afraid of being bullied by other students in their school (i.e., school safety).
In this study, multiracial students (i.e., those students who were identified as belonging to more than one racial/ethnic group) reported the highest rates of bullying involvement (30.6%), followed by those students who did not know their races/ethnicities (26.9%), African American (23.2%), White (20.6%), and Asian American students (18.5%). Hispanic students (17.9%) reported the lowest rates of involvement in bullying. Asian American students were more likely to be racially or ethnically bullied (e.g., were bullied with mean names or comments about their race or color) than their peers of other races/ethnicities in U.S. schools.
In terms of the relationship between several key school-level variables (such as the densities of racial/ethnic groups, the ethnic diversity, the overall poverty level, student/teacher ratio, and school locale) and bullying, results showed that the ethnic densities of African American and multiracial students were associated with a greater likelihhod of being bullied, and the ethnic densities of Asian American and Hispanic students were associated with a less likelihood of being bullied. Students were less likely to be bullied within a school context with a moderately high rate of school ethnic diversity, but the likelihood of being bullied appeared to increase if the ethnic diversity was too high. Students in schools located in town and rural communities were more likely to be bullied than students in urban and suburban areas. The school's overall poverty level moderated the relationship between races/etnicities and bullying.
This study generated two multivariate regression models predicting bullying among children and youth. In the model predicting being bullied, the overall model was significant and explained 21.9% of the variance. The strongest predictor of being bullied in the model was school safety. The likelihood of joining in bullying, being in elementary school and high school, the size of a child's social networks in school, general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with school, the school's overall poverty level, being multiracial students, the ethnic density of Hispanic students, attending a school located in towns, and being a girl were also significant predictors. Student/teacher ratio did not predict being bullied.
In the model predicting bullying others, the overall model was significant and explained 14.1% of the variance. The strongest predictor of bullying others in the model was the likelihood of joining in bullying. School safety, general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with school, the school's overall poverty level, being in elementary school and high school, being African American and multiracial students, the density of Asian American students, attending a school located in towns, and the school's ethnic diversity were also significant predictors. Gender and student/teacher ratio were not associated with the likelihood of bullying others. Research and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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