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16-08-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2018

Do Anti-Bullying Laws Reduce In-School Victimization, Fear-based Absenteeism, and Suicidality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth?

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2018
Kristie L. Seelman, Mary Beth Walker


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at heightened risk for bullying and other forms of in-school victimization. Anti-bullying laws are a potential policy mechanism for addressing this issue, yet there has been little investigation of the impact of such policies for this population using generalizable samples or quasi-experimental designs. The current study explores whether the presence of state anti-bullying laws predicts lower likelihood of bullying victimization, fear-based absenteeism, in-school threats or injury with a weapon, and suicidality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning high school students in the United States. Based on Youth Risk Behavior Survey data across 22 states from 2005–2015, coupled with data about the presence of general and enumerated anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation as a protected class, this study analyzes this topic using a quasi-experimental design (linear difference-in-difference models). The results indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth (particularly boys aged 15 or younger) experienced less bullying victimization in states with general or enumerated anti-bullying laws. There was modest evidence of a reduction in fear-based absenteeism among boys in states with such laws. However, there was little evidence of a relationship between such policies and in-school threats or injuries or suicidality. Further, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning girls’ likelihood of victimization, absenteeism, or suicidality was generally not related to the presence of anti-bullying laws. The results suggest that general and enumerated anti-bullying laws may help reduce bullying victimization for gay, bisexual, and questioning boys.

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