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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Researchers Investigate Self-Perception and Peer Victimization in Adolescents

Drs. Matthew Lee Smith and E. Lisako J. McKyer of the Texas A&M School of Public Health and others studied how students perceive themselves in relation to bullying. Published in The Journal of School Nursing, their research examined self-perceived positive and negative descriptions among middle and high school students who reported verbal bullying and analyzed associations between student self-perception, drug use and perceived drug and alcohol use, and sexual activity among friends, to determine whether such factors may predict verbal peer-victimization.

Data from a questionnaire of almost 1,000 middle school and high school students in Indiana showed 16 percent reporting being put down by others often, with nearly equal percentages for male and female students. More middle school students reported verbal bullying than high school students. Male students reported greater drug use and perceived risky behaviors in friends though percentages were almost equal between males and females. Females gave self-descriptions of considerate and independent on the positive side and confused on the negative. Males were more likely to state they were popular and self-confident or immature, boring and careless. Students who held more positive self-perceptions were less likely to report having been put down by others, whereas students with more negative views were more likely to report being bullied.

Students who align with peer-valued characteristics are less likely to be victimized. Because this study only examined cross-sectional relationships, it remains to be seen whether positive and negative self-perceptions repel and attract victimization, respectively, or if self-perceptions result from bullying.

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