Anti-bullying Policies and Disparities in Bullying: A State-Level Analysis

Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, Javier E. Flores, Joseph E. Cavanaugh, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Marizen R. Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction Recent research suggests that anti-bullying laws may be effective in reducing risk of bullying victimization among youth, but no research has determined whether these laws are also effective in reducing disparities in bullying. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying legislation in reducing disparities in sex- and weight-based bullying and cyberbullying victimization. Methods Data on anti-bullying legislation were obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, which commissioned a systematic review of 16 key components of state laws in 2011. States were also categorized based on whether their legislation enumerated protected groups and, if so, which groups were enumerated. These policy variables from 28 states were linked to individual-level data on bullying and cyberbullying victimization from students in 9th through 12th grade participating in the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System study (N=79,577). Analyses were conducted in 2016. Results There was an absence of any kind of moderating effect of anti-bullying legislation on weight-based disparities in bullying and cyberbullying victimization. Only state laws with high compliance to Department of Education enumeration guidelines were associated with lower sex-based disparities in bullying victimization. Conclusions Anti-bullying policies were not associated with lower weight-based disparities in bullying and cyberbullying victimization among youth, and only one form of policies (high compliance to Department of Education enumeration guidelines) was associated with lower sex-based disparities in bullying victimization. Results therefore suggest that anti-bullying legislation requires further refinement to protect youth who are vulnerable to bullying victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-191
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Volume53
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

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