Florida Public Health Review

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Background: School bullying is a major social and public health threat as it presents a variety of developmental and psychological adolescent hazards that stretch into adulthood problems. Bullying victimization has been linked with a plethora of adverse health risk behavior outcomes.

Purpose: To examine the association between bullying (in-person and electronic) and health risk behaviors related to school violence, mental and sexual health risks, substance abuse, and weight control practices.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). A 4-level variable was generated using the in-person and electronic bullying questions resulting in four mutually exclusive bullying categories. Logistic regression analyses, stratified by sex, examined the relationship between bullying and health risk behaviors related to violence, mental health, substance abuse, and weight-related factors after adjusting for race and grade.

Results: Rates of victimization among students varied; 6.4% of students reported being bullied both in-person and electronically, 7.6% reported in-person bullying only, 4.4% reported being electronically bullied only, and 81.6% were uninvolved. Bullying was associated with almost all the health risk behavior outcomes studied with a few exceptions. Experiencing both kinds of bullying was most strongly associated with forced sexual intercourse for female adolescents as compared to suicide attempts for male adolescents.

Discussion: Schools should provide safe and supportive environments and implement policies to prevent the long-term harmful effects of bullying.

Previous Versions

Feb 7 2023