As part of a larger randomized controlled trial, data were collected from two cohorts of eighth-grade students in thirteen urban schools, in the fall of each year (n= 276; girls = 53%; African-American = 63%). Data from a third cohort of about 120 students will be added by Spring 2019. Teachers reported how often students displayed bullying and victimization behavior (SDQ; Goodman, 1998) and rated students’ academic skills (ACES-TF; DiPerna & Elliott, 2000). Students reported lifetime exposure to 8 types of trauma, including the death or incarceration of a parent, physical abuse, and discrimination (Bethell et al., 2017). Students also reported depressive symptoms (CDI-S; Kovacs, 2004), and hope they felt for the future (HOPE; Child Trends, 2014). Study measure alphas ranged from .68 to .87.
Latent Class Analysis (Lanza, Collins, Lemmon, & Schafer, 2007) identified four groups: (1) normative (59%); (2) bullying (both verbal and physical; 10%); (3) verbally aggressive/ victimized (18%); and (4) physically aggressive/ victimized (13%). Once identified, we associated each latent class with students’ experiences of trauma, depression, hope, and academic skills. Adolescents classified as normative performed significantly better academically compared to the other groups (p's<.05). Students classified as physically-aggressive victims reported significantly more: lifetime trauma than both normative or verbally-aggressive victims (M’s=2.46, 1.69, 1.50, respectively; p's<.05); depressive symptoms than verbally-aggressive victims (M’s=3.91, 2.16, respectively; p=.05); and less hope than students in the normative behavior group (M’s=12.60; 11.07;p=.05).
These findings have implications for both correlates of patterns of peer behaviors and school interventions. Not all forms of bullying and victimization are equally at risk, as evidenced by the significantly negative characteristics associated with adolescents only in the aggressive-victimization group. Some schools, particularly those with a large population of students who have experienced trauma and depressive symptoms, may require anti-bullying interventions that specifically address these students’ mental health needs.