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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway theory has indicated that bullying perpetration predicts sexual violence perpetration among males and females over time in middle school, and that homophobic name-calling perpetration moderates that association among males. In this study, the Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway theory was tested across early to late adolescence.
Participants included students from four Midwestern middle schools and six high schools. Surveys were administered across six time points from Spring to Spring At baseline, the sample was The sample was The findings reveal that late middle school homophobic name-calling perpetration increased the odds of perpetrating sexual violence in high school among early middle school bullying male and female perpetrators, while homophobic name-calling victimization decreased the odds of high school sexual violence perpetration among females.
The prevention of bullying and homophobic name-calling in middle school may prevent later sexual violence perpetration. Bullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual violence perpetration emerge during early adolescence and appear to be associated with one another both in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies Espelage et al. Further, the association between bullying and sexual violence was moderated by homophobic name-calling perpetration among males; the link between bullying and sexual violence for males was strongest among students who reported directing homophobic epithets at other students.
However, the bully-sexual violence pathway has not been examined across later adolescence when sexual violence perpetration is more prevalent. Thus, the present study sought to replicate the Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway theory by examining homophobic name-calling perpetration as a moderator of bullying and sexual violence into high school. In addition, this study extends our understanding of the pathway by examining homophobic name-calling as a mediator of the bully-sexual violence pathway.
Bullying is defined as recurring acts of aggression by another youth or group of youth that include abuse of power, which can be physical e. Among a nationally representative sample of high school students grades 9—12 Also, in a recent U. A recent meta-analysis of 80 studies of prevalence of cyber and face-to-face bullying among adolescents found Homophobic name-calling is primarily understood as a form of gender-based harassment, consisting of pejorative labels or denigrating phrases aimed at youth perceived to be sexual or gender minorities Meyer However, research demonstrates that these epithets are not only targeted toward sexual and gender minority youth, but may also be directed at heterosexual youth Tucker et al.
Bullying perpetration and homophobic name-calling are overlapping, yet distinct, forms of peer aggression Espelage et al. Homophobic name-calling sometimes called teasing or bantering often occurs among friends and strangers Espelage et al.
Among friends, this type of harassment or teasing may serve as a form of gender role enforcement where friends perpetrate homophobic name-calling to enforce their own status while warning others not to deviate from socially sanctioned gendered behavior. Such epithets targeted toward sexual and gender minority youth are likely used to punish and stigmatize them for having already deviated from such norms, which includes compulsory heterosexuality.
Sexual harassment has also been defined legally in the educational setting to include unsolicited sexual behavior, either verbal or physical, that hinders the victim from obtaining equal education Hill and Kearl Sexual harassment e. For the purpose of this study, we use the term sexual violence to encompass the constellation of sexually violating behaviors, including sexual harassment. Early adolescence is a developmental period during which youth intensely explore their gender and sexual identities, with attitudes and behavior being shaped by their peer groups and larger social context.
Homophobic name-calling serves, in part, to shame sexual and gender minority youth for violating gender roles, which includes compulsory heterosexuality. Among heterosexual young men, the enforcement Hetland-SD sex dating hegemonic masculinity further creates an environment where sexual violence and other forms of gender-based harassment emerge and is often preceded by other forms of peer aggression Birkett and Espelage ; Herek ; Kimmel and Mahler ; Poteat et al.
The Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway theory posits that bullying perpetration is a precursor to gender-based harassment in the form of homophobic name-calling Poteat and Espelage and sexual violence Espelage et al.
Poteat and Espelagefound that bullying perpetration was associated with greater use of homophobic epithets e. There is reason to believe that this Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway would extend to high school given the association between bullying and sexual violence in several high school studies, and increased pressure to maintain heteronormativity across this developmental time period Poteat et al. In a cross-sectional study of middle school students and high school students, Pepler and colleagues found that students who bullied were Hetland-SD sex dating likely to report sexual harassment perpetration than those who did not.
However, these studies did not examine homophobic name-calling as a mediating variable explaining the bully-sexual violence link. Thus, in the current study, we focused on replicating the Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway supported by Espelage et al.
It is equally plausible that involvement in homophobic name-calling, either as a victim or perpetrator, could also mediate the association between bullying in early middle school and high school sexual violence perpetration.
Overlap among bullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual violence perpetration suggests that youth who display one type of aggression e. Perpetrating bullying against other students might also lead to being a target of homophobic epithets, given bullying and homophobic name-calling perpetration and victimization are often co-occurring in middle school Poteat and Espelage Poteat and colleaguesin a two-year longitudinal study of homophobic name-calling, found that bullying perpetration was associated with increases in homophobic victimization across the first year of high school.
Further, McMaster and colleagues found that homophobic name-calling was commonly expressed by both males and females in the 6th—8th grades, and that cross-gendered sexual harassment increased in frequency during that time. This could take the form of sexual violence toward the opposite sex Messerschmidt ; Meyer ; Stein ; Stein et al.
The relationships among bullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual violence perpetration appear to be stronger among males than females. Literature on the sex differences in bullying and homophobic name-calling consistently finds that males engage in these behaviors more frequently than females McMaster et al. Adolescent males report that homophobic name-calling is one of the most serious and provocative actions used against one another Pascoe ; Plummer —the seriousness of this offense then may result in violence or aggression among those youth attempting to assert their hegemonic masculinity.
Poteat and Rivers explored the association between bullying roles e. On the other hand, Poteat and Espelage found a ificant association between bully perpetration and homophobic name-calling for both males and females in middle school. Poteat et al. In addition, as noted ly, the Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway was moderated by homophobic name-calling perpetration for males only Espelage et al.
Thus, all of the analyses in the present study considered sex differences across the relationships among bullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual violence. The current study replicates and extends Espelage et al. Three hypotheses are evaluated. Consistent with Espelage et al. Second, we extended the Bully-Sexual Violence Pathway theory and hypothesized that both homophobic name-calling victimization and perpetration in later middle school grades 7—8 would mediate the relationship between early bullying perpetration grades 5—7 and sexual violence perpetration in high school grades 9—11 Hypothesis 2.
Third, we further extended the theory by estimating multi-mediator models by biological sex. That is, mediation models with both homophobic name-calling victimization and perpetration entered as the intermediary mediating variables between early middle school bullying perpetration and high school sexual violence perpetration, and these models were estimated for males and females, simultaneously. We hypothesized that homophobic perpetration and victimization would be ificant mediators between bullying perpetration and sexual violence perpetration for males but not females Hypothesis 3.
At baseline the sample was At baseline, students were in 5th 4. In wave six, participants had become freshmen, sophomores, or juniors in high school. See Table 1 for more information on basic demographics. The current study was formally announced in school newsletters, school district newsletters, and e-mails from the principals prior to the Spring of Students were asked to consent to participate in the study through an assent procedure described on the coversheet of the survey distributed to all remaining students.
Surveys were later de-identified with code s so researchers could track their responses over multiple time points and ensure confidentiality. Students were initially informed about the nature of the study by one of the six trained research assistants, the principal investigator, or another faculty member who administered the survey. Surveys were conducted in classrooms ranging from 10 to 25 students. The survey took approximately 40—45 min to complete.
Members of the research team ensured confidentiality by ensuring students were sitting far enough away from one another. The survey was administered and read aloud while students responded individually. Because the content of the survey could be upsetting to students, researchers assured them that their participation in the study was entirely voluntary and that they could skip any question or stop participating in the survey at any time.
At least one appropriately trained doctoral-level psychology student was on site to provide immediate support to any student and direct him or her to necessary services. Students were also provided the contact information of the research team to seek more information about the study.
Also, students were reminded about in-school resources available to them e. Students could mark all that applied. Then, students completed questions about bullying perpetration and homophobic name-calling perpetration during middle school first four waves and then a sexual violence perpetration measure in high school last two waves. The nine-item Illinois Bully Scale Espelage and Holt was used to assess the frequency of bullying perpetration in middle school.
For example, students were asked how often in the past 30 days they engaged in each behavior e. The construct validity of this scale has been supported via exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis Espelage and Holt Higher scores indicated more self-reported bullying behaviors. The item Homophobic Content Agent Target Scale was used to assess homophobic name-calling perpetration and victimization in middle school Poteat and Espelage Students were asked how often in the past 30 days they directed homophobic epithets at other students perpetration or were targets of this language victimization.
The five-item victimization scale consisted of the same items and response options, except that students were asked how often others e. Construct validity has been supported through exploratory and confirmatory analyses and the victimization scale correlates ificantly with measures of bullying victimization Poteat and Espelage We assessed the structure of this modified AAUW scale by splitting the sample into two separate subsamples, comparing fit statistics for a one-and two-factor solution in an exploratory factor analysis, and then fitting a confirmatory factor analysis to the best fitting model.
of the exploratory factor analysis using the first subsample suggested that a one-factor solution fit the data best; all factor loadings ranged from. Because the distribution for perpetration was heavily skewed, it was dichotomized into 1 ever engaging in sexual violence perpetration or 2 never engaging in sexual violence perpetration during the last two waves high school.
Of note, the same items were used to measure middle school sexual violence perpetration at each of two high school waves. To address our hypotheses both replication and extension we ran a series of moderation and mediation models.
All models were estimated using Mplus version 7. Hypotheses are restated here, so the reader does not need to refer to these hypotheses earlier in this manuscript. To address our first hypothesis that the association between middle school bully perpetration and high school sexual violence perpetration would be moderated by middle school homophobic name-calling, we estimated a multi-group logistic regression model to directly replicate and expand findings from Espelage and colleagues a.Hetland-SD sex dating
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