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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2009

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

Bullying, Victimization, Ethnicity, Children, Risky Behaviors, Bully

Abstract

In 2005, the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported 21.9% of males and 26.1% of females were bullied in schools. Little research has been conducted into showing an association between childhood bully victimization and risky behaviors. In addition, knowledge is limited about the connection between victimization and risky behaviors among different ethnic groups. We propose to assess the association between victimization and risky behaviors, using the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey among 3,116 students in grades 9 through 12 in 2007. Data was obtained by self-administered questionnaire, and victimization was considered as a single dichotomous variable. Victimization was assessed as a dichotomous variable. Risky behaviors (smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, unprotected sex and weapon violence) were measured using several questions regarding frequency and initial age of use. Logistic regression was used to analyze the association between bullying and risky behavior, and then the results were stratified with ethnic background (White, Hispanic and other) to assess possible effect modification. Results show that victims are more likely to have engaged in risky behaviors before the age of 13 and are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors while at school. Significant ethnic differences in the relation between bully victimization and risk behaviors were not generally observed; however, non-White bully victims were generally at greater risk for all risky behaviors than Whites. These findings will help provide information on factors that may be used to identify at-risk children, and to target adjust existing interventions with bullying and victims to improve efficacy.

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Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Whitcomb, Brian
Puleo, Elaine