Beyond bullying: Aggravating elements of peer victimization episodes.

Academic Article


  • This study sought to identify features of peer victimization that aggravate negative outcomes in children. The features that were assessed include "power imbalance," a commonly used criterion in defining bullying, and 5 other characteristics: injury, weapon involvement, Internet involvement, sexual content, and bias content. Three outcomes were assessed: level of fear, missing school, and trauma symptoms. A nationally representative sample of 3,164 children and youth ages 6-17 (51.8% male; 68.4% white, 12.5% black, 13.5% Hispanic, 5.7% other race) was obtained through Random Digit Dial and supplemented with an address-based sample to capture cell-phone-only households. One child was randomly selected from each household. Interviews were conducted with parents of children age 6-9 and with the youths themselves if they were age 10-17. Peer victimization was assessed with the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ). Almost half (48.4%) of the entire sample of school-age children experienced at least 1 form of peer victimization in the past year. Injury and power imbalance independently increased the impact on children for all 3 outcomes. Additionally, weapon involvement and sexual content were associated with trauma symptoms, with sexual content having the strongest effect (B = .23, p < .001). This diversity of aggravating features suggests a need to reconsider the current emphasis on prioritizing bullying with its exclusionary power imbalance definition as the central focus for prevention and intervention. We recommend a broader focus on peer victimization along with more research to identify the aggravating features that signal the greatest need for intervention.
  • Authors

  • Turner, Heather
  • Finkelhor, David
  • Shattuck, Anne
  • Hamby, Sherry
  • Mitchell, Kimberly
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 2015
  • Published In


  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Child
  • Crime Victims
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Power, Psychological
  • Prevalence
  • Schools
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 25330389
  • Start Page

  • 366
  • End Page

  • 384
  • Volume

  • 30
  • Issue

  • 3