Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
Using data from a longitudinal survey of adolescents, this dissertation develops a social network-based measure of school bullying. It considers three research questions: 1) what accounts for racial disparities in bullying perpetration? 2) Are there racial differences in the consequences of involvement in bullying? 3) What factors affect the likelihood of interracial bullying? The first paper yields two divergent but not mutually exclusive views of bullying, the first based on theories of delinquency, the second derived from the concept of status insecurity. Bullies are less attached to school and parents, have more conflictive home lives, are themselves picked on, have aggressive friends, and are more likely to be depressed, findings consistent with theories of delinquency. At the same time, bullies are also seemingly "normal" kids who participate in extra-curricular activities, are relatively popular, have attractive friends, and may come from high socio-economic backgrounds. None of the variables mediate the higher perpetration rates of African-Americans and Latinos. The second paper tests the relationship between bullying involvement and five outcomes: popularity, school attachment, depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts. Bullying others increases popularity, but also increases anxiety and depression. Being bullied decreases popularity and increases depression and the likelihood of suicide attempts. With one exception, the effect of bullying on mental health and school attachment does not vary by race. Minority students who bully others make larger gains in popularity than whites, suggesting one possible explanation for their higher perpetration rates. The third paper examines the prevalence of bullying relationships among dyads. Bullying is most likely to be intra- rather than inter-racial, even after controlling for propinquity and social distance. Racial diversity of the school increases the prevalence of bullying, but does not influence the prevalence of interracial bullying. Bullying is also less likely to cross gender lines, but boys bully girls more often than girls bully boys. Girls bully each other more often than boys bully each other. Bullying is more likely to occur between those who are socially close and of similar social status. More attractive and physically developed adolescents are more likely to bully their less developed and less attractive peers.