Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-11-2017


Every day in the United States, hundreds of thousands of students are absent from school because of fear of being bullied (Chen & Huang, 2015; Goldstein, 2012). Although bullying among school children in the United States has been declining since the 1990s (Finkelhor, 2013; Perlus, Brooks-Russell, Wang, & Iannotti, 2014), it is still a major social and mental health issue that has severe negative consequences on victims. Most of the existing literature has documented the short-term negative consequences of peer victimization in school children (Jantzer, Haffner, Parker, Resch, & Kaess, 2015; Landoll, LaGreca, Lai, Chan, & Herge, 2015; Rueger & Jenkins, 2014; Schwartz, Lansford, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 2015; Sumter, Valkenburg, Baumgartner, Peter, & van der Hof, 2015; Troop-Gordon, Rudolph, Sugimura, & Little, 2015) and although a recent five decade study demonstrated that long term mental health effects such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation continues into adulthood (Takizawa, Maughan, & Arseneault, 2014), research on the long term mental health effects such as anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults, related to a history of peer victimization is limited (Bowes, Joinson, Wolke, & Lewis; 2016; McDougall & Vaillancourt, 2015; Ttofi, 2015).

In view of the existing literature and its limitation, I designed the current study to explore the following objectives: explore the degree to which college students report being bullied in secondary school; identify if long term mental health effects such as anxiety and depression exist in college students who have a history of being victimized by peers in secondary school; and understand college students’ perceptions of coping resources including mothers and fathers helpfulness and availability as well as community resources during the time they were bullied. Two hundred and thirty undergraduate college students participated in the study. It was a convenience sample and the participants were recruited from select Family and Child Studies courses at a university located in the Southwestern part of the United States. The participants filled out the following instruments: Demographic Questionnaire, Bullying Questionnaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Instrument (STAI), the Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-Revised (CESD-R), and Coping Resources Questionnaire. Analyses suggested that the study participants reported low to moderate level of bulling (relational, verbal, and physical) experiences when they attended secondary school. Levels of bullying experiences did not vary as a function of participants’ ethnicity and GPA. However, female participants reported greater experiences of relational bullying than male participants. Bullying experiences were found to be positively linked to participants’ reports of depressive symptoms and state anxiety. Also, depression, state anxiety, and trait anxiety were positively correlated. School teachers and peers appeared to be some possible sources of support to cope with bullying experiences. Also, a noticeable proportion of the participants reported no plausible support networks to get help. Although the bullying victims perceived that both the mother and the father were available to help, the mother’s availability appeared to more pronounced that the father’s availability to help. The findings are discussed within the context of the human ecological systems model and future research and policy implications.


Peer Victimization, Bullying, Secondary School, College Students, Anxiety, Depression, Community Resources, Mother's and Father's Availability

Document Type




Degree Name

Family Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ziarat Hossain

Second Committee Member

Ryan Kelly

Third Committee Member

Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez

Fourth Committee Member

Alexandra Davis

Fifth Committee Member

John Mark Dyke

Included in

Education Commons