Carlos Avalos

Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Epidemiology and Biostatistics

First Advisor

Myriam Torres


Introduction: Students who are victimized at school are more likely to report mental health, behavioral, and academic problems. Bullying and electronic bullying are types of victimization that are prevalent in US schools, with prevalence varying by race and ethnicity, gender, and age. Additionally, due to increases in bias-based harassment (such as being targeted due to race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs) in the country over the last few years, it is of interest to see how victimization behaviors in schools may have changed from 2015 to 2017.

Objective: To analyze trends of overall bullying, school bullying, electronic bullying, and other forms of victimization such as being threatened at school or missing school due to safety concerns from 2009 to 2017 by race and ethnicity, gender, and among gender-stratified race/ethnic categories. Additionally, to better understand how the prevalence of all types of victimization changed from 2015 to 2017 among these groups.

Methods: Data came from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System’s (YRBSS) national school-based survey from 2009-2015 (n=73,975). Our outcomes of interest consisted of reporting school bullying, electronic bullying, missing school due to safety concerns, and being threatened at school. Our independent variable of interest was time (odd years from 2009 to 2017). Covariates were age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Analyses were performed using multivariable logistic regression models using SAS 9.4.

Results:Most of our sample were 15 to 17 years of age, and non-Hispanic White. The proportions of those reporting overall bullying was highest in 2011 (27.5%) and lowest in 2017 (24.1%) (p=.0460). School bullying and electronic bullying did not vary by year. Reporting missing school due to safety concerns was highest in 2013 (7.04%) and lowest in 2009 (4.90%) (p=.0051) and reporting being threatened or injured at school was highest in 2009 (7.53%) and lowest in 2017 (5.83%) (p

Conclusions: The results of our analyses show that female students had higher proportions of all types of bullying compared to male students, and their proportions of bullying are not decreasing. Although national anti-bullying campaigns emphasize prevention among racial, and ethnic minorities, it appears that more needs to be done to decrease bullying prevalence among females. We saw an increase in odds of victimization from 2015 to 2017 only among male non-Hispanic Black students, whereas the prevalence of being threatened at school seemed to plateau for some groups. This warrants future research to continue monitoring long-term trends of victimization among US high school students.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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