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It’s Time for Anti-Bullying Programs to Prioritize Race

In recent years, schools across the country have implemented stricter anti-bullying rules. But as suicide remains one of the top leading causes for children in the country, researchers say anti-bullying efforts should pay more attention to one factor: race.

In a new study, published in Aggression and Violent Behavior, master’s student Mariah Xu (Hunter College) and Ph.D. student Natalia Macrynikola (The Graduate Center) look deeply at racial and ethnic differences in bullying.

“The effects of bullying involvement in childhood reverberate throughout the lives of individuals and of their peers, families, and communities,” the authors wrote. “Bullying researchers … should continue to do so within an intersectional and multicultural framework.”

The researchers found that children bullied due to their race or ethnicity face greater health risks than those that do not. This “bias-based” bullying is associated with depressive symptoms, poor self-esteem, self-harm, suicide ideation and substance abuse. Still, anti-bullying measures are less effective for minorities, and don’t generally prioritize minoritized communities, the researchers noted.

“[R]ather than merely examining race and ethnicity as moderators, researchers should tailor interventions and research questions toward serving under-studied and disadvantaged groups,” the authors added.

The authors noted that minoritized racial and ethnic groups and immigrants also experience a measure of protection as a result of their strong ethnic and cultural identities. The article utilized empirical research of some 1,396 studies on bullying to identify trends and outcomes, and propose future solutions.

The results of the study “reflect the need to tailor interventions to the needs and characteristics of minority populations.”

“Given that race/ethnicity, combined with contextual factors, differentially impacts the forms and outcomes of bullying perpetration and victimization, special emphasis on racial and ethnic minority students is needed when developing effective interventions,” the authors noted.

Beyond SUM

Work By

Mariah Xu (Master’s student, research assistant, Psychology) | Profile 1
Natalia Macrynikola (Ph.D. student, Health Psychology and Clinical Science) | Profile 1