The direct and moderating effect of bullying on adolescent health
Rahey, Leila (Leila Anne), 1971-
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In the last two decades, research has established a negative association between involvement in bullying and emotional health difficulties. Few studies, in comparison, explore the relationship between bullying and victimization and physical health. Moreover, studies are lacking on the influence of bullying on health in adolescence. Three studies were conducted to explore the association between bullying and adolescent positive and negative health behaviours. Using an ecological model, we examined the influence of bullying and victimization on physical activity and health status, risky sexual behaviours and sexual coercion, and dating violence perpetration and victimization. Each study explored how bullying influenced the relationship between environmental factors and adolescent health. Results suggest that both bullying and victimization can have a negative influence on risky health behaviours. As well, the findings suggest that relationships with adults may protect youth involved in bullying from negative health experiences. These results support a model of co-occurring health behaviours in youth, including involvement in bullying. Hence, we propose that teen health promotion programs target overall lifestyle choices rather than solely focusing on individual health behaviours. As well, we recommend that bullying prevention programs need to address engagement in unhealthy habits during adolescence, while being sensitive to the complex relationship between environmental and bullying factors that can influence physical health in adolescence.