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Bullying, Family Resources and Mental Health: A Test of the ABC-X Theory
Resnick, Elise M.
Leslie, Leigh A.
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Bullying has become a public health threat; it is associated with numerous highly publicized suicides over the past few years. While some research on the topic suggests that overall rates of bullying are low, the consequences are potentially severe. Although schools and policymakers are working to better define and eradicate instances of bullying, the role that family plays in the related mental health risks has not been well-considered. As guided by the ABC-X theory, it was hypothesized that children with bullying experiences - as a victim, bully, or hybrid bully/victim, who had high levels of parental support, and who interpreted this support as a strong resource - would not suffer the same degree of mental health problems or poor life satisfaction as that reported by children with bullying experiences and poorer family resources. Using a sample of over 6,900 children from the HBSC 2005/2006 U.S. dataset, hierarchical, stepwise regression was employed to determine if family factors did indeed moderate the linkage between bullying experiences and both mental health and life satisfaction. Specifically, it was predicted that the relationship between bullying and either mental health or life satisfaction will be weaker for those with high levels of family resources than for those with low levels. Four types of bullying were considered; physical, verbal, relational and cyber. Demographic variables were held constant to ensure that they did not influence results. Overall, this study found that, regardless of bullying status, children with higher levels of parental communication and involvement do have better mental health and life satisfaction. However, in general, these family factors did not moderate the relationship between bullying and mental health and life satisfaction as predicted. The few exceptions to this are detailed in this study, as are potential explanations for the findings, suggestions for future research, and the implications of this research.