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01-03-2013 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2013

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2013

Strategies to Address Weight-Based Victimization: Youths’ Preferred Support Interventions from Classmates, Teachers, and Parents

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2013
Rebecca M. Puhl, Jamie Lee Peterson, Joerg Luedicke


Weight-Based Victimization is a frequent experience for adolescents who are overweight or obese, and is associated with numerous psychosocial and physical consequences for those who are targets of victimization. Assessing targets` preferences for different types of support and intervention has been absent in the context of weight-based victimization, but is needed to help inform potential interventions, motivate action, and identify strategies to help adolescents cope with experiences of weight-related teasing or bullying. Adolescents (14–18 years, N = 361, 40 % female, 71 % Caucasian) enrolled in national weight-loss camps completed an on-line survey. Participants who reported previous experiences of weight-based victimization were surveyed about their preferred interventions from peers, friends, teachers, Physical Education (PE) teachers/coaches, and parents. Participants indicated their preferences for specific strategies pertaining to target support, bullying intervention and prevention (e.g., inclusion in peer activities, confronting the bully, telling an adult, and improving anti-bullying policies). Friends (66 %) and peers (58 %) were the most highly preferred intervention agents followed by teachers (55 %), PE teachers/coaches (44 %), and parents (43 %). Participants who experienced more weight-based victimization expressed increased desire for intervention. The frequency of victimization, social support from friends and family, and perceived likelihood and helpfulness of intervention significantly influenced participant preferences for certain types of intervention, although preferences were generally consistent across participants’ characteristics. The current study is the first to document youth’s preferences for interventions in response to weight-based victimization. The findings have important implications for encouraging appropriate intervention and informing bystanders, which may help to reduce the prevalence, recurrence, and consequences for youth who are targets of weight-based teasing or bullying.

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