A Developmental Perspective on Children and Adolescents who Bully and are Victimized by Peers
McGugan, Margaret J.
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The present study examined developmental changes in the prevalence, stability, and developmental pathways associated with Bully/Victim status in order to increase our understanding of this high-risk group. In addition, this study investigated changes within individuals and their social context that are associated with moving into, or out of, the Bully/Victim group. This study was guided by the theory of developmental contextualism, which suggests that bullying involvement is likely to change over the course of development and that these changes are likely related to changes within individuals and their social contexts. One thousand six hundred seventy-seven elementary school students and 1402 high school students participated in this longitudinal study. Data were collected three times from each sample. Developmental changes in Bully/Victim status were assessed through a series of log-linear analyses and changes in individual and their peer relationships associated with transitions in bullying status were assessed through a series of multinomial logistic regression analyses. The results supported developmental contextual theory. Bully/Victim status became less prevalent over the course of development and was particularly unstable over three points of time in both elementary and high school. Individuals who became part of the Bully/Victim group were likely to have a history of involvement in bullying, and those who recovered from the Bully/Victim group usually maintained some sort of bullying involvement. When youth transitioned between types of bullying, they became more similar to the bullying status group that they entered in terms of individual characteristics. In addition, changes in bullying status were associated with changing peer groups.