Perceived Stress, Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Associated with African-American Youth who are Bullies, Victims, or Bully/Victims
Bullying has become a major public health problem. The United States reports a higher prevalence of bullying than most other western countries. In this country approximately 10% of children ages 7 to13 years old either bully or are victims of bullying more than once a month.Bullying becomes more acute and more frequent during middle school. The reason for this increase in bullying during middle school may be a function of multiple developmental transitions that occur in this age group. The internalizing symptoms of perceived stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression have been associated with bullying and being a victim. However it is not clear whether these symptoms are a cause or a consequence of the bully experience. This study examined the contribution that perceived stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression make to African-American middle school-aged youth who self-identify as a bully, a victim, a bully/victim, or having no involvement in the bully experience. Secondary data from the Health Behaviors for School Aged Children Survey 2001-2002 were examined to explore the probability that perceived stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression are predictive of African-American middle school youth self-reporting as bullies, being bullied, or being bully/victims. The sample consisted of 2,017 African-American middle school youth, ages 11 to 15 years old from around the United States. Results from logistic regression analysis found that among African-American middle school youth, depressive symptoms were predictive of self-identifying as bullies. Anxiety was predictive of youth identifying as a victims. Youth who reported perceived stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression were more likely to self-identify as bully/victims. The study showed there was a greater likelihood that youth who did not report perceived stress or symptoms of anxiety or depression self-identified as non-involved. These findings are as inconsistent as the current literature that is available for this understudied population. Additional studies would clarify the causality between African-American middle school youth internalizing symptoms and the bully experience.
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