Bullying Among Young Adolescents

The Strong, the Weak and the Troubled

Published in: Pediatrics, v. 112, no. 6, Dec. 2003, p. 1231-1237

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by Jaana Juvonen, Sandra Graham, Mark A. Schuster

Read More

Access further information on this document at pediatrics.aappublications.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

OBJECTIVES: Bullying and being bullied have been recognized as health problems for children because of their association with adjustment problems, including poor mental health and more extreme violent behavior. It is therefore important to understand how bullying and being bullied affect the well-being and adaptive functioning of youth. The authors sought to use multiple data sources to better understand the psychological and social problems exhibited by bullies, victims, and bully-victims. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Analysis of data from a community sample of 1985 mostly Latino and black 6th graders from 11 schools in predominantly low socioeconomic status urban communities (with a 79% response rate). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Peer reports of who bullies and who is victimized, self-reports of psychological distress, and peer and teacher reports of a range of adjustment problems. RESULTS: Twenty-two percent of the sample was classified as involved in bullying as perpetrators (7%), victims (9%), or both (6%). Compared with other students, these groups displayed school problems and difficulties getting along with classmates. Despite increased conduct problems, bullies were psychologically strongest and enjoyed high social standing among their classmates. In contrast, victims were emotionally distressed and socially marginalized among their classmates. Bully-victims were the most troubled group, displaying the highest level of conduct, school, and peer relationship problems. CONCLUSIONS: To be able to intervene with bullying, it is important to recognize the unique problems of bullies, victims, and bully-victims. In addition to addressing these issues directly with their patients, pediatricians can recommend school-wide antibullying approaches that aim to change peer dynamics that support and maintain bullying.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.