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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Research Note
Bullying Linked to Violence at Home
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published the results of a study that suggests bullying may be associated with family violence.
To assess the association between family violence and other risk factors and being involved in or affected by bul¬lying, the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health analyzed data from the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey, an anonymous paper and pencil survey conducted every two years. The study included 2,859 middle school students and 2,948 high school students. Overall response rates were 55.8 percent and 66.7 percent for middle and high school students, respectively. The participants were categorized based on their responses to two survey items related to bullying. The following are the four student categories along with the percentage of surveyed students who fell in each category:
• Victims of bullying: 26.8 percent of middle school and 15.6 percent of high school students
• Bullies: 7.5 percent of middle school and 8.4 percent of high school students
• Bully-victims (those who had been victims of bullying and had bullied others): 9.6 percent of middle school and 6.5 percent of high school students
• Neither (those who had neither bullied others nor were victims of bullying): 50.6 percent of middle school and 69.5 percent of high school students

The study found that bullies, victims, and bully-victims were significantly more likely to be physically hurt by a family member or to have witnessed violence at home than students who were not involved in bullying. After adjusting for potential differences by age, group, sex, and race and ethnicity, researchers created the following adjusted odds ratios (AORs)—or likelihood of involvement in bullying:
• For middle school students being physically hurt by a member of the family: 2.9 for victims (that is, the odds of being a victim are 2.9 times higher than for someone who was not being physically hurt by a member of the family), 4.4 for bullies, and 5 for bully-victims
• For middle school students witnessing family violence, 2.6 for victims, 2.9 for bullies, and 3.9 for bully-victims
• For high school students being physically hurt by a family member: 2.8 for victims, 3.8 for bullies, and 5.4 for bully-victims
• For high school students witnessing family violence: 2.3 for victims, 2.7 for bullies, and 6.8 for bully-victims

The researchers also examined risk factors that have been well documented in previous studies. They found significantly elevated AORs for victims, bullies, and bully-victims for the majority of these risk factors. The following are some results (AORs) for middle school students:

• Seriously considering suicide: 3.0 for victims, 4.1 for bullies, and 6.6 for bully-victims
• Intentionally injuring themselves, 2.3 for victims, 3.1 for bullies, and 7.4 for bully-victims
• Feeling sad or hopeless, 2.3 for victims, 2.1 for bullies, and 4.2 bully-victims

Similar patterns were observed among high school students. This report presents the first state-specific data on a broad range of risk factors suspected to be associated with bullying for middle and high school students. The researchers note that these results “underscore the importance of primary bullying prevention programs and of comprehensive programs and strategies that involve families.”

This study was published in the April 22, 2011, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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