The role of bullying in depressive symptoms from adolescence to emerging adulthood: A growth mixture model

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Abstract

Background The present study sought to identify trajectories of depressive symptoms in adolescence and emerging adulthood using a school-based sample of adolescents assessed over a five-year period. The study also examined whether bully and cyberbully victimization and perpetration significantly predicted depressive symptom trajectories. Method Data from a sample of 1042 high school students were examined. The sample had a mean age of 15.09 years (SD=.79), was 56.0% female, and was racially diverse: 31.4% Hispanic, 29.4% White, and 27.9% African American. Data were examined using growth mixture modeling. Results Four depressive symptoms trajectories were identified, including those with a mild trajectory of depressive symptoms, an increasing trajectory of depressive symptoms, an elevated trajectory of depressive symptoms, and a decreasing trajectory of depressive symptoms. Results indicated that bully victimization and cyberbully victimization differentially predicted depressive symptoms trajectories across adolescence, though bully and cyberbully perpetration did not. Limitations Limitations include reliance on self-reports of bully perpetration and a limited consideration of external factors that may impact the course of depression. Conclusions These findings may inform school personnel in identifying students– likely trajectory of depressive symptoms and determining where depression prevention and treatment services may be needed.

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Growth mixture modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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