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01-11-2007 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2007

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 8/2007

Perceived Social Support among Bullies, Victims, and Bully-Victims

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 8/2007
Melissa K. Holt, Dorothy L. Espelage
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Melissa K. Holt is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center and Family Research Laboratory. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Counseling Psychology. Her major research interests include bullying, multiple victimization among adolescents, and contextual influences on victimization.
Dorothy L. Espelage is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University in Counseling Psychology. Her major research interests include youth aggression, victimization, childhood sexual abuse, and eating disorders.


Research indicates that social support plays a protective role among adolescents, but little research has explicitly evaluated its function among youth involved in bullying. Accordingly, this study examined relations among social support, bully/victim status, and psychological distress in a sample of 784 ethnically diverse youth. We assessed differences in perceived social support across bully/victim subtypes, and evaluated peer and maternal social support as protective factors among victims, bullies, and bully-victims. Youth were classified as uninvolved (61.6%), as bullies (14.3%), as victims (12.5%), and as bully-victims (11.6%). Uninvolved youth reported the most peer and maternal social support and the least anxiety/depression. Multivariate analyses revealed that there was a significant interaction between bully/victim groups and peer social support. Specifically, bullies, victims, and bully-victims who reported moderate peer social support also indicated the least anxiety/depression. Results highlight the importance of encouraging youth to develop and effectively use peer support networks as part of bullying intervention programs.

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