Data were from the Illinois Study of Bullying and Sexual Violence, a longitudinal study of 3,549 students in middle school and high school over seven years (fall 2008 to spring 2013; Espelage, Low, Anderson, & De La Rue, 2014). About half of the students were female (50.4%); 49.1% were African American and 34.3% were White. At baseline, students were in grades 5-7 (Mage = 11.81; SD = 1.09). The nine-item Illinois Bullying Scale measured bullying perpetration. Students were asked: “For each of the following questions, choose how many times you did this activity or how many times these things happened to you at school in the last 30 days?”; for example, “I upset other students for the fun of it” (0 = never to 4 = 7 or more times; recoded for interpretability). The Parental Supervision Scale measured parental monitoring with the following question: “How much do you agree with the following statements about your parents?”; for example, “My parents would know if I did not come home on time” (0 = never to 3 = always). Gender, race, and parental education were covariates. For the analytic sample, we selected students age 11 at baseline to age 18 at the final data collection (n = 3,508). We organized data by participant age and conducted a cross lag model.
Continuity was observed in bullying perpetration and parental monitoring across time (all associations p < 0.000). Parental monitoring predicted lower levels of bullying perpetration from age 13-14 (b = -0.19, SE = 0.06, p = 0.002). Contrary to expectations, bullying perpetration had a negative association with parental monitoring from ages 16-17 (b = -0.09, SE = 0.04, p = 0.016), 15-16 (b = -0.09, SE = 0.03, p = 0.004), 13-14 (b = -0.07, SE = 0.03, p = 0.010), and 11-12 (b = -0.15, SE = 0.05, p = 0.004).
Results imply that a lack of perceived parental monitoring may embolden youth who bully. To reduce bullying perpetration, the transition to high school may be an important time for parents to monitor youth.