Applying the social-ecological framework to understand the associations of bullying perpetration among high school students: A multilevel analysis

Gabriel J. Merrin, Dorothy L. Espelage, Jun Sung Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Drawing from the social-ecological framework, this multilevel study examines individual, family, and school correlates of bullying perpetration among a sample of high school-age students. Cross-level interactions address contextual influences across individuals and schools. Method: The analytic dataset contains anonymous responses (collected in 2012) of the Dane County Youth Survey (DCYS) from 12,185 high school students in Grades 9 through 12 (49.8% females). The survey assessed demographic characteristics, family relations, peer relations, substance use, bullying, victimization, and school connectedness. Results: Multilevel modeling was used to examine between-person and between-school differences in individual rates of bullying perpetration. Females reported less engagement in bullying perpetration than did males. Furthermore, alcohol and marijuana use was related to higher rates of bullying perpetration. In addition, between-person family dysfunction and school risk were both associated with higher rates of bullying perpetration. Similarly, between-person rates of school connectedness were associated with less bullying perpetration. At the school level, average between-school differences in family dysfunction was related to greater bullying perpetration. A cross-level interaction was also significant. Compared with individuals attending schools with higher average rates of family dysfunction, schools with lower rates of family dysfunction displayed lower levels of bullying perpetration. Conclusion: Prevention programs that consider various dimensions of the social-ecological perspective and, more specifically, family and school factors have potential to reduce bullying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Violence
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Bullying
  • Peer abuse
  • School violence
  • Youth violence

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