Applying the social-ecological framework to explore bully/victim subgroups in South Korean schools

Hong, Jun Sung and Kim, Dong Ha and Hunter, Simon C. (2019) Applying the social-ecological framework to explore bully/victim subgroups in South Korean schools. Psychology of Violence, 9 (3). pp. 267-277. ISSN 2152-081X

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    Objective: The present study sought to identify the structure of South Korean student bully and victim groups based upon longitudinal data and the association of groups with social- ecological based factors at the individual (age, sex, father and mothers' educational status, household income, aggression, depression, smoking, drinking, type of family structure), family (neglect, abuse), friend-peer (peer relationships, number of delinquent friends), and school (school activity, school rules, teacher relationship) levels. Method: Participants were 2,284 2nd-year middle school students (50.5% male; M age = 14.0 years) who completed the Korea Children and Youth Panel Survey annually for 3 years. Results: Latent class analysis identified victims (4.5%), bullies (2.8%), bully victims (1%), and uninvolved students (91.8%) across time. At the individual level, compared to uninvolved group, bully victims and bullies were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol; all subgroups had higher levels of aggression; and bullies and victims were more likely to have depression. At the friend-peer level, victims reported poorer quality peer relationships, and both bully victims and bullies reported having more delinquent friends. At the school level, victims and bullies reported being less likely to engage in school activities, and bullies and bully victims reported being less likely to follow school rules. Conclusion: Certain social- ecological variables are relevant risk factors associated with each group of adolescents in South Korea. Our findings call for a holistic intervention strategy that addresses not only bullying but also problems such as smoking and drinking and depressive symptomatology.