Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research

Advancing Applied MCH Research

(SDAS) School and Community Factors Related to Peer Harassment Among Adolescents

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Project Number: R40MC26815
Grantee: University of Minnesota
Department/Center: Pediatrics Medical School
Project Date: 04/01/2014

Final Report


Principal Investigator

Marla Eisenberg, ScD
Associate Professor
Room 353 717 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN  55414
Phone: (612) 626-8602


  • Middle Childhood (6-11 years)
  • Adolescence (12-18 years)


Bullying is one of the most significant public health concerns facing youth today, and its adverse health and academic correlates and consequences are well-documented. However, most U.S. school-based prevention programs show no or modest improvements on students’ behavior. The proposed study seeks to uncover new characteristics of schools and individuals that are associated with harassment experiences among students, in order to move the field forward with new approaches to prevention. Specifically, we plan to conduct secondary data analysis on a very large and uniquely suitable statewide survey dataset of youth to examine school characteristics associated with harassment among students in general as well as in select vulnerable populations. In response to Healthy People 2020 goals and MCHB’s strategic plan (Goal 3) and research issues (III, IV), this project will use a variety of analytic techniques to address the following research questions (RQ): RQ1: What school characteristics are associated with victimization and perpetration of physical, relational, cyber and prejudice-driven harassment? RQ2: What are the harassment experiences of particularly vulnerable youth populations, including those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB), are overweight, or have a physical or mental disability, and how are school characteristics associated with this experience? RQ3 : Is the well-established relationship between harassment victimization and perpetration and emotional well-being (depressive symptoms, self-harm, suicide) modified by school-level characteristics or membership in a vulnerable group? To meet these goals, we have brought together a team of investigators with complementary expertise in public health, sociology, psychology, peer aggression, GLB health, multi-level study design and complex statistical analysis. The 2013 Minnesota Student Survey is expected to include data from over 100,000 participants in 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th grades from all areas of the state, which will provide adequate representation of small subgroups (e.g. GLB youth) in a population-based sample. The dataset includes a wide variety of measures of harassment experiences (including prejudice-driven harassment, which is rarely assessed), risk and protective factors, vulnerable group characteristics, emotional well-being and demographic characteristics. Analysis will include 1) creating aggregated measures of school-level risk and protective factors, 2) conducting multi-level regression to test Hypotheses regarding school-level characteristics and student-level harassment experiences and emotional health, 3) supplemental latent class analysis to explore groupings that characterize both schools and student harassment experiences, and 4) multi-level analysis using latent classes. Because schools are the most common setting for harassment and prevention activities, this study aims to provide usable information to district and school administrators to inform the development or adoption of new policies, programs and targeted approaches to address harassment in their student body. The proposed study will generate new evidence that will inform school personnel as they continue to grapple with this ongoing problem in order to keep their students safe from harm


Listed is descending order by year published.

Eisenberg ME, Gower AL, Mcmorris BJ, Bucchianeri MM. Vulnerable bullies: perpetration of peer harassment among youths across sexual orientation, weight, and disability status. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(9):1784-91.

Eisenberg ME, Gower AL, McMorris BJ. Emotional health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning bullies: does it differ from straight bullies? J Youth Adolesc. 2015 Jun 13. [Epub July 13 2015]

Gower AL, Mcmorris BJ, Eisenberg ME. School-level contextual predictors of bullying and harassment experiences among adolescents. Soc Sci Med. 2015;147:47-53.


Trauma & Injury, Violence & Abuse , Mental Health & Wellbeing , School Outcomes & Services, Social & Emotional Development, Health Disparities

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