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School Psychology Quarterly 2014 American Psychological Association

2015, Vol. 30, No. 1, 105122 1045-3830/15/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/spq0000082

Examination of the Change in Latent Statuses in Bullying

Behaviors Across Time

Ji Hoon Ryoo Cixin Wang

University of Virginia University of California, Riverside

Susan M. Swearer
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
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Involvement in bullying and victimization has been mostly studied using cross-
sectional data from 1 time point. As such, much of our understanding of bullying and
victimization has not captured the dynamic experiences of youth over time. To examine
the change of latent statuses in bullying and victimization, we applied latent transition
analysis examining self-reported bullying involvement from 1,180 students in 5th
through 9th grades across 3 time points. We identified unobserved heterogeneous
subgroups (i.e., latent statuses) and investigated how students transition between the
unobserved subgroups over time. For victimization, 4 latent statuses were identified:
frequent victim (11.23%), occasional traditional victim (28.86%), occasional cyber and
traditional victim (10.34%), and infrequent victim (49.57%). For bullying behavior, 3
latent statuses were identified: frequent perpetrator (5.12%), occasional verbal/
relational perpetrator (26.04%), and infrequent perpetrator (68.84%). The characteris-
tics of the transitions were examined. The multiple-group effects of gender, grade, and
first language learned on transitions across statuses were also investigated. The infre-
quent victim and infrequent perpetrator groups were the most stable, and the frequent
victim and frequent perpetrator groups were the least stable. These findings suggest
instability in perpetration and victimization over time, as well as significant changes,
especially during school transition years. Findings suggest that school-based interven-
tions need to address the heterogeneity in perpetrator and victim experiences in

Keywords: latent transition analysis, bullying, victimization, middle and high schools

Supplemental materials: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/spq0000082.supp

Bullying is a complex phenomenon, defined tions in social, behavioral, and often, academic
by repeated aggressive behavior with the intent functioning (Rueger & Jenkins, 2014; Swearer,
to hurt others, as well as a perceived imbalance Siebecker, Johnsen-Frerichs, & Wang, 2010).
of power between the bullies and the victims The bullying literature has exploded over the
(Olweus, 1994). It is characterized by disrup- past three decades; however, various method-
ological challenges plague the field. For exam-
ple, different definitions and forms of bullying
(i.e., physical, verbal, relational, and cyber),
This article was published Online First August 11, 2014. cut-off points, and time frames used to deter-
Ji Hoon Ryoo, Department of Educational Leadership, mine involvement, have made comparisons
Foundations and Policy, University of Virginia; Cixin across studies impossible. Meanwhile, under-
Wang, Graduate School of Education, University of Cali-
fornia, Riverside; Susan M. Swearer, Department of Edu- standing the changes in perpetration and victim-
cational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. ization over time has been less studied. This
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed study sought to remedy this by examining fifth
to Ji Hoon Ryoo, Department of Educational Leadership,
Foundations and Policy, University of Virginia, 417 Emmet
through ninth grade students experiences with
Street South, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4265. E-mail: bullying over three time points (i.e., semesters).
jr3gv@virginia.edu Specifically, we investigated the changes in sta-

tuses with membership at each time point, and tionship with cyberbullying. One study found
individual characteristics that may moderate the that students who engaged in cyberbullying be-
transition in bully/victim statuses over time. longed to a highly aggressive group who also
frequently engaged in other forms of bullying
Prevalence of and Changes in Bullying and (physical, verbal, and social; Wang, Iannotti, &
Peer Victimization Luk, 2012). Further research is needed to ad-
vance our understanding of the relationship be-
Research suggests that the percentage of stu- tween cyberbullying/victimization and different
dents engaging in bullying perpetration range types of traditional bullying/victimization
from 6.4% to 35% (Nansel et al., 2001; Swearer (physical, verbal, and relational).
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

et al., 2010), while 30% to 60% students re- Only a few longitudinal studies have exam-
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

ported being victimized, with weekly victimiza- ined the changes in bullying and victimization
tion ranging from 6% to 15% (Card & Hodges, over time. Research has demonstrated an initial
2008; Robers, Kemp, Truman, & Snyder, increase in bullying after the transition into mid-
2013). The wide range of prevalence rates are dle school, and then a general decreasing trend
likely due to the fact that researchers have used afterward (Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000; Pellegrini
different cut-off criteria to determine bullying & Long, 2002). Studies have also shown a de-
involvement (i.e., daily vs. weekly involvement, crease in peer victimization over time (Nylund,
or aggression/victimization scores falling 1 SD Bellmore, Nishina, & Graham, 2007; Smith,
above the mean; Schwartz, Proctor, & Chien, Madsen, & Moody, 1999). When examining
2001; Swearer et al., 2010). Using arbitrary different types of victimization over 3 years,
cut-off criteria (e.g., 1 SD above the mean) researchers found social victimization increased
based on the score distribution of a particular significantly from seventh grade through ninth
sample is problematic because it may lead to grade only for girls and then decreased at tenth
different classification across studies. Further- grade; however, there were no significant
more, individuals who score close to the cut-off changes in overt victimization (both physical
points may be misclassified (Bettencourt, Far- and verbal victimization) between seventh
rell, Liu, & Sullivan, 2013). Person-oriented grade and tenth grade (Rosen, Beron, & Under-
approaches, such as latent class analysis (LCA) wood, 2013). However, most extant studies
or latent transition analyses (LTA) can remedy used variable-oriented approach (e.g., correla-
this limitation by using response patterns of tion or ANOVA) to examine stability/change in
observed variables to assign individuals to un- aggression over time (Pellegrini & Long, 2002;
observed latent groups (Bye & Schechter, 1986; Strohmeier, Wagner, Spiel, & von Eye, 2010),
Collins & Wugalter, 1992). which fail to capture individuals transition
The difference in prevalence rates across patterns. The correlation between time points
studies may also be due to researchers assessing simply indicates the association between
different types of bullying behaviors (i.e., phys- those degrees but not the changes. LTA is a
ical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying) inde- person-oriented approach that classifies the
pendently or in combination (Swearer et al., heterogeneous subgroups and traces the
2010). Although researchers generally agree changes in membership over time. It also
that physical, verbal, and relational bullying are allows researchers to examine factors associ-
distinct constructs, the distinction between cy- ated with group membership and transitions
berbullying and traditional bullying (physical, across time (Bergman & Magnusson, 1997;
verbal, and relational bullying) is less clear. Bergman, Magnusson, & El-Khouri, 2003;
There has been debate regarding whether cyber- Collins & Lanza, 2010).
bullying is a unique phenomenon (Li, 2007; Fewer studies have examined the changes in
Olenik-Shemesh, Heiman, & Eden, 2012). group membership/latent status over time using
Strong correlations between cyberbullying and LTA. One study followed fourth graders for 3
traditional bullying as well as cyber victimiza- years and found four distinct groups: bully
tion and traditional victimization have been (12%24%), victim (25%39%), bully/victim
documented (e.g., Li, 2007). However, few re- (7%12%), and not involved (37% 40%), with
searchers have separated different subtypes of students depressive symptoms and antisocial
traditional bullying when examining its rela- attitudes as significant predictors of status

change during the transition to middle school tion, or ELL status are associated with students
(Williford, Boulton, & Jenson, 2014). Similarly, involvement in bullying perpetration and peer
one study with sixth graders over two time victimization. However, how these characteris-
points (2 years) also found four distinct classes: tics impact the changes or transition in bully/
nonvictimized aggressors (17%21%), aggres- victim statuses is less clear.
sive-victims (21%24%), predominantly vic-
timized (15%25%, the least stable group), and Gender Differences
well-adjusted youth (37%39%, the most stable
group; Bettencourt et al., 2013). Looking at Research on gender differences in bullying
bullying perpetration specifically, one study fol- and aggression has yielded contradictory find-
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lowed fourth graders over a 3-year period and ings. Some studies have found that boys were
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found that three distinct groups of bullies ex- more likely to be involved in bullying than girls
isted, including one group (82%) with consis- (Cook, Williams, Guerra, Kim, & Sadek, 2010).
tently low scores for bullying, one group (7%) However, other studies have found that al-
with high and consistent scores of bullying, and though boys engage in more physical and verbal
one group (11%) with moderate but declining aggression than girls (e.g., Prinstein, Boergers,
levels of bullying behavior (Reijntjes et al., & Vernberg, 2001), the gender differences in
2013). To examine the stability of peer victim- indirect/relational aggression was close to zero
ization during sixth to eighth grade, Nylund, (d .06), with girls engaging in slightly higher
Bellmore, Nishina, and Graham (2007) found levels of indirect/relational aggression (Card,
three victim classes based on severity: fre- Stucky, Sawalani, & Little, 2008).
quently victimized, sometimes victimized, and When looking at different types of victimiza-
nonvictimized, and found adolescents tended to tion, boys reported being overtly victimized
move from a more frequently victimized class more than girls (Martin & Huebner, 2007; Prin-
into a less frequently victimized class over time. stein et al., 2001). Girls have been found to
Although above-mentioned studies have begun experience more relational victimization com-
to examine the changes in bully/victim statuses pared with boys (Dempsey, Fireman, & Wang,
using LTA, they only followed students in a 2006; Rueger & Jenkins, 2014). However, the
single grade over a short period of time (e.g., 2 absence of gender differences (Storch, Masia-
to 3 years). Furthermore, to our knowledge, Warner, Crisp, & Klein, 2005), and boys expe-
researchers have not yet examined the effects of riencing more relational victimization (Martin
grade and English language learner (ELL) status & Huebner, 2007) have also been documented.
on the transition between different bullying and Regarding cyber victimization, the results are
victimization groups. This study extends prior also mixed, with some studies showing girls
research by using a sequential design with stu- experiencing more cyber victimization (e.g.,
dents from fifth to ninth grades over three se- Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Li, 2007), yet other
mesters to examine the stability and transition in studies finding no gender difference (e.g., Jack-
class membership in bullying perpetration and son & Cohen, 2012). These differences might
victimization as well as individual factors (gen- be due to different data collection methods used
der, grade, and ELL status) that may impact the (self-report vs. peer/teacher report), different
transition. Because students involved in bullying age groups studied, and the use of different
and victimization represent heterogeneous sub- definitions of bullying and victimization. Re-
groups, using LTA to accurately identify different searchers have also suggested that in order to
subgroups of students involved in bullying, and better understand gender differences in bully-
characteristics associated with each subgroup will ing, it is important to move beyond the mean
provide important information to guide bullying level differences and to examine the process by
prevention and intervention efforts. which bullying unfolds (Underwood & Rosen,
2011, p. 13). Thus, it is important to examine
Individual Characteristics Associated With how gender may influence the transition in bul-
Bullying and Victimization lying perpetration and victimization classes
over time. Limited research has suggested that
Research has shown that some individual aggressive behavior is less stable among girls
characteristics, such as gender, grade, immigra- than boys, while girls tend to transition out of

serious aggression; boys involvement in ag- The Present Study

gression is more stable over time (Miller et al.,
2013). To date, most studies have used predeter-
mined cut-off criteria to define bully/victim
Grade Differences groups and have examined prevalence rates
across different age groups using cross-
Research has shown that bullying behaviors sectional designs, which results in a lack of
tend to increase at the end of elementary school understanding in the dynamic changes among
to middle school years and then decrease during bully/victim statuses. In previous approaches
the high school years (Olweus, 1993; Pepler et such as correlation studies using cut-off scores,
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

al., 2006). Specifically, an increase in bullying the degree of victimization and bullying were
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

after the initial transition to middle school has measured with the assumption that there exists a
been documented, suggesting students may use single homogeneous population for each con-
bullying as a way to gain social status with new struct that can be measured using a continuous
peers after school transitions (Pellegrini & Bar- scale. The correlation between time points sim-
tini, 2000; Pellegrini & Long, 2002). Further- ply indicates the association between those de-
more, compared with younger students, older grees but not the changes. Previous research has
students were more likely to be a bully, less shown that using predetermined cut-off points
likely to be a victim (Cook et al., 2010), and to define different victim groups may be prob-
tended to exhibit lower rates of physical bully- lematic because it fails to take developmental
ing and higher rates of relational bullying (Coie changes in peer victimization into consideration
& Dodge, 1998). Thus, as children mature, they (Nylund et al., 2007). The current study em-
learn that there are greater negative conse- ployed LTA and extends previous research by
quences for physical bullying and fewer conse-
using a sequential design with students from
quences for relational, verbal, and/or cyberbul-
fifth to ninth grades over three semesters to
lying because they are more difficult to detect.
estimate the prevalence and degree of transi-
tioning between latent statuses. We identified
English Language Learner Differences
unobserved heterogeneous subgroups and ob-
Immigrant students experience many chal- served how students transitioned between the
lenges at school, including discrimination unobserved heterogeneous subgroups over time.
(Shin, DAntonio, Son, Kim, & Park, 2011), Using LTA, the current study was guided by the
limited access to educational resources (Kozol, following research questions and hypotheses:
2005), and increased risk for mental health dif-
1. Are there distinct subgroups of students
ficulties (Sue, 1994). Considering that about
25% of children in U.S. have at least on foreign- involved in bullying and victimization
born parent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010), it is who engage in particular patterns of be-
important to examine how immigrant or ELL haviors? Based on the existing literature
status impacts students experiences with bully- (Nylund et al., 2007; Reijntjes et al.,
ing and/or peer victimization. However, only a 2013), we hypothesized that there are dis-
few studies have examined the effect of ELL tinct victim classes and perpetrator classes
status or immigration on bullying/victimization. based on the frequency of involvement
Some studies have shown that immigrants and instead of the type, for example, nonvic-
ELL students experience higher level of peer tims, occasional victims, and frequent vic-
victimization compared with native speakers, tims as well as nonperpetrators, occa-
possibly because of language barriers and cul- sional perpetrators, and frequent
tural differences (von Grnigen, Perren, Ngele, perpetrators.
& Alsaker, 2010; Koo, Peguero, & Shekarkhar, 2. Is there change between latent statuses
2012); however, other studies have not found across time? We hypothesized that there is
these disparities (Boulton, 1995; Strohmeier, change between latent statuses across
Krn, & Salmivalli, 2011). Furthermore, most time.
of those studies were conducted in European a. If so, how can this change be charac-
countries and not in the United States. terized? We hypothesized that each

transition can be classified either: de- sitions, the number of schools increased to 22
creasing, increasing, or stable. over three semesters. Slightly more than half
b. Is the change in latent statuses affected (52.9%) of participants were female, 46.5%
by student characteristics such as gen- were male, and gender information was not
der, grade, and ELL status? Based on available for 0.6% of participants at Time 1.
the existing literature (e.g., Pellegrini Grades were distributed from fifth to ninth grades:
& Long, 2002; Williford et al., 2014), fifth (10.0%), sixth (31.4%), seventh (26.4%),
we hypothesized that during the transi- eighth (21.0%), and ninth grade (10.6%). Among
tion to middle school, students will the participants, 9.9% indicated that English was
move from a less involved victim or not their first language. The ethnicity of the sam-
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perpetrator group into a more fre- ple was predominantly Caucasian: Caucasian/
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quently involved group. Over time, White (80.2%), Black/African American (7.1%),
girls will become less involved in per- Latino/Hispanic (5.4%), Asian American (2.4%),
petration and victimization compared other (1.7%), and missing (3.2%). The attrition
with boys (Miller et al., 2013; Nylund rates were 5.59% at Spring 2006 and 15.34% at
et al., 2007; Rosen et al., 2013). We Fall 2006.
hypothesized that ELL students may
experience more victimization over Procedure
time due to their language and cultural
Recruitment letters were distributed to all
parents with children from fifth grade to ninth
3. If an individual is in a particular latent
grade in the participating schools. Parents were
status at Time t, what is the probability
informed that the results would be confidential,
that the individual will be in that latent
and that they could withdraw their consent at
status at Time t 1, and what is the
any time without penalty. Approximately 53%
probability that the individual will be in a
of the consent forms were returned by the par-
different latent status? We hypothesized
ents and/or guardians and 81.1% of them gave
that involvement in bullying and victim-
consent for their children to participate. Stu-
ization is a dynamic experience over time;
dents were also given a youth assent form.
however, due to limited research in the
Almost all of the students (97%) assented to
literature, this research question is explor-
participate in the study. Only the students
atory in nature and we do not have specific
whose parents gave consent and the students
hypothesis regarding the probability.
who gave assent were included in the current
study. Students completed the instruments in
Method large groups at school (e.g., classroom, lunch-
room) during the regular school day. Trained
Participants graduate research assistants gave clear instruc-
tions to the students, answered students ques-
Data for this study are part of a larger inter-
tions during data collection, and checked the
national longitudinal investigation involving re-
measures for any missing data.
searchers from the United States, Japan, Korea,
Australia, and Canada (Konishi et al., 2009). Measures
Part of the first wave of the data collected in the
U.S. were published in a study examining the Each student completed a demographic ques-
different experiences of bullying among stu- tionnaire that included questions about gender,
dents in special and general education (Swearer, age, grade, first language use, and race/
Wang, Magg, Siebecker, & Frerichs, 2012). In ethnicity. Then, students completed the Pacific-
the current study, data were collected from fifth Rim Bullying measure (PRBm; Konishi et al.,
to ninth graders over three semesters (Fall 2005, 2009; Swearer et al., 2012) which surveyed
Spring 2006, and Fall 2006). Participants were students experiences and concerns about bul-
1,180 students from fifth to ninth grades (mean lying and victimization without using the word
age 12.2, SD 1.29) in Fall 2005 (Time 1) bullying in order to avoid misunderstanding
attending nine schools in a midwestern city in or different understandings of the bullying con-
the United States. Due to students school tran- struct across countries and languages. Instead,

students were provided with the following in- were .73 (Fall 2005), .74 (Spring 2006), and .77
struction to capture three primary distinguishing (Fall 2006). Additional information regarding
characteristics of bullyingintentionality, rep- the validity of PRBm can be found in Swearer,
etition, and power differential: Students can be Wang, Magg, Siebecker, and Frerichs (2012).
very mean to one another at school. Mean and For example, the bullying perpetration mean
negative behavior can be especially upsetting score in PRBm correlated significantly with ag-
and embarrassing when it happens over and gression measured by Childrens Social Behav-
over again, either by one person or by many ior Scale (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) and Bully
different people in the group. We want to know Survey-Short (Swearer, 2006). The victimiza-
about times when students use mean behavior tion mean score in PRBm correlated signifi-
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and take advantage of other students who can- cantly with victimization measured by Chil-
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

not defend themselves easily. Data were also drens Social Experiences Questionnaire (Crick
collected from school records that included de- & Grotpeter, 1995) and Bully Survey-Short
mographics, students GPA, and office referral (Swearer, 2006).
data. As part of the longitudinal study, students
also completed additional counterbalanced Statistical Analyses
measures on internalizing symptoms and cogni-
tive functioning. We conducted LTA, to represent the complex
Students were asked to respond to six items array of response proportions in this data set in
from the PRBm to measure peer victimization: a format that is more parsimonious and easier to
In the past 2 months, how often have other comprehend, and at the same time to reveal
students been mean or negative to you (a) by important scientific information contained in
pushing, hitting, or kicking or other physical the data. Using the same notations as that in
ways (jokingly)?; (b) by pushing, hitting, or Collins and Lanza (2010), the LTA with three
kicking or other physical ways (on purpose)?; time lags in this study can be written as
(c) by taking things from them or damaging
their property?; (d) by teasing, calling them K K K 3 J

names, threatening them verbally, or saying

P(Y y) k (k k )(k k )t1
k 1 k 1 k 1
1 2 3
1 j1
2 r 1 (j,r
1 3
I(y r )
2 k)

mean things to you?; (e) by excluding or

ignoring them, spreading rumors or saying where k 1, . . . , K are the number of latent
mean things about them to others, or getting classes, j 1, . . . , J are observed variables
others not to like them?; (f) by using com- having r j 1, . . . , R j response categories (rj
puter, e-mail, or phone text messages? The 3 for items for bullying and victimization mea-
same six items tapped bullying perpetration. sures), ks are probability of membership in the
Response options were based on a 4-point Lik- kth latent class, s are the item-response prob-
ert-type scale, ranging from never, once or abilities, I is an indicator function, k j1 k j rep-
twice, about once a week, to several times a resents the probability of a transition to latent
week. In the current study, because bullying was status k at time j 1, conditional on member-
defined as a purposeful aggressive behavior, ship in latent status k at time j. Multiple-Groups
one item by pushing, hitting or kicking or other LTA, denoted by g, can also be written as
physical ways (jokingly) was not included in
the analyses, because the word, jokingly ne-
P(Y y G g)
gated the purposeful aggressive nature of bul-
lying. Instead of using all four responses (never, K K K 3 J

once or twice, about once a week, and several

k ,g(k k ),g(k k ),gt1
k11 k21 k31
1 2 j1
1 r 1 (j,r
3 2
I(y r )
k ,g) .

times a week), the last two response options

were combined into once or more a week, because In the analyses, we restricted parameters of
they both represent regular weekly involvement in item-response probabilities, , across times and
victimization and bullying perpetration. Internal groups, that is, Iy j,tr j,t Iy j,tr j Iy j,tr j,t
j,r j,t kt j,r j kt and j,r j,t kt,g
Iy j,tr j
consistencies for the self-reported victimization j,r j kt
, respectively. The purposes of assuming
scale were .72 (Fall 2005), .75 (Spring 2006), measurement invariance across times, groups,
and .78 (Fall 2006). Internal consistencies for and latent statuses are the same as in Collins and
the self-reported bullying perpetration scale Lanza (2010; pp. 212213), because it is easy to

interpret the latent transition models and the probabilities according to grouping variables.
other is to help stabilize estimation and improve To compare four models, AIC and BIC were
model identification. also considered in addition to the LRDT be-
To select the optimal number of latent sta- cause the LRDT works only for nested models
tuses for bullying and victimization, we com- and those four models are not fully nested. We
pared LTA models from two latent classes to six compared Models 2, 3, and 4 with Model 1
latent classes by applying information criteria unless either Model 2 or Model 3 fit equally
(AIC and BIC). In the case of disagreement of well into the data and fit better than Model 1.
AIC and BIC, we selected the optimal number When Model 2 or Model 3 fit equally well into
by looking at trends of changes in both infor- the data and fit better than Model 1, we com-
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mation criteria. The optimal number was used in pared Model 4 with the selected model via the
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subsequent latent transition analyses with group- results of the information criteria.
ing variables: gender, grade, and ELL status.
Next, the testing hypotheses about change of Results
transition probabilities between times was con-
ducted by using likelihood ratio difference test Students Experiences of Victimization
(LRDT). That is, we tested if a single transition
matrix was enough to explain the change of To identify the number of latent statuses,
latent statuses across times. According to the two-status to six-status models were compared
work by Read and Cressie (1988; as cited in using the information criteria, AIC and BIC,
Collins & Lanza, 2010), the LRDT statistic, and the interpretability of latent classes in terms
G2 G22 G21, with df df 2 df 1, is likely of item probabilities was considered. The low-
to be approximated well by the 2 distribution est AIC was found for a six-status model, while
with df when df is relatively small. In this the lowest BIC was found for a four-status
study, there are 28 dfs that vary from 2 to 96 model. The four-status model, however, was
with median 12. more parsimonious and conceptually more ap-
In multiple Groups LTA, four models were pealing than the six-status model in terms of
compared to obtain the best fitting models in item probabilities. We classified four different
terms of restrictions on latent status prevalence groups of students who were bullied. Frequent
at Time 1 and transition probabilities (see Table victims referred to the regularly (weekly) bul-
1). In Model 1, both prevalence and transitions lied students: they were regularly physically
were free to vary across groups. In Model 2, the harmed (47% probability of endorsing the re-
prevalence was constrained across groups. In sponse), their property was regularly taken or
Model 3, the transitions were constrained across damaged (39%), they were regularly and ver-
groups. In Model 4, both prevalence and tran- bally bullied (82%), and they were regularly
sitions were constrained. These hypothesis tests isolated from peers due to rumors (66%). How-
allowed us to examine the possible variances in ever, they were not highly involved with cyber-
terms of latent status prevalence and transition bullying (25% answered weekly, 18% answered

Table 1
Model Comparison of Selecting the Best Fitting Model
Latent status Transition
Item-response probabilities prevalences at Time 1 probabilities
LTA without grouping
Model 1 Equal across times and latent statuses Free
Model 2 Equal across items and latent statuses Equal across times
Multiple groups LTA
Model 1 Equal across times, groups and latent statuses Free Free
Model 2 Equal across times, groups and latent statuses Equal across groups Free
Model 3 Equal across times, groups and latent statuses Free Equal across groups
Model 4 Equal across times, groups and latent statuses Equal across groups Equal across groups

once or twice during the past 2 months, and suggested that after students returned from sum-
58% answered never). Occasional traditional mer break, they were less likely to be victim-
victims referred to the students who were occa- ized. Specifically, the decrease mainly occurred
sionally bullied physically, verbally, and rela- among the occasional traditional victim group
tionally, but not electronically. They answered (from 29% to 18%). The probability of being an
high probabilities for once or twice during the occasional cyber and traditional victim in-
past 2 months in terms of being physically creased from 10.3% (Fall 2005) to 12.2%
harmed (36%), their property was once or twice (Spring 2006) and 12.8% (Fall 2006).
taken or damaged (34%), they were once or In this article, we focus our discussion on the
twice verbally bullied (59%), and they were difference of 20% or higher between the prob-
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once or twice isolated from peers due to rumors abilities at two different time points because the
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(42%). However, they were not involved with transition probability of 20% is relatively high
cyberbullying (99% answered never). Occa- in this sample. We found that the total number
sional cyber and traditional victims referred to of frequent victims mainly stayed level from
the occasional verbal, relational, and cyber vic- Fall 2005 to Spring 2006, but their group com-
tims: They were once or twice verbally bullied
position changed over time. Specifically, 24%
(69%), isolated from peers due to rumors
of members in the frequent victim group
(69%), and cyber bullied (57%), but were less
changed into the occasional traditional victim
likely to experience physical bullying behavior
(pushing/hitting/kicking, 24%) and property group, meanwhile, 14% of members in the oc-
damage (38%). Infrequent victims referred to casional traditional victim group and 14% oc-
the rarely bullied students. These statuses were casional cyber and traditional victims changed
mutually exclusive and exhaustive. Item proba- into the frequent victim group. There were
bilities ( estimates) were summarized in Table greater changes in statuses from Spring 2006 to
2. The main difference between the occasional Fall 2006. About 35.9% of members in the
traditional victims and the occasional cyber and frequent victim group changed into the occa-
traditional victims were that the occasional tra- sional traditional victim group, 46.1% of mem-
ditional victims did not report experiencing cy- bers in the occasional traditional victim group
ber victimization. changed into the infrequent victim group, and
The probability of being in the frequent, oc- about 28.4% of members in the occasional cy-
casional traditional, and occasional cyber and ber and traditional victim group changed into
traditional victims statuses was 50% at Fall the infrequent victim group (see Table 3). This
2005, 51% at Spring 2006, and 40% at Fall suggests that after the summer break, most stu-
2006 (see estimates in Table 3). These results dents experienced less victimization.

Table 2
Item Probabilities of the Latent Statuses ( Estimates) on the Victimization Item (Item 18)
category Never Once or twice Once or more a week
Latent status LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4
Item18 (b) 0.2168 0.5994 0.7342 0.9371 0.3133 0.3583 0.2426 0.0597 0.4699 0.0423 0.0231 0.0032
Item18 (c) 0.2565 0.6366 0.6119 0.9354 0.3510 0.3438 0.3815 0.0605 0.3925 0.0196 0.0066 0.0041
Item18 (d) 0.0377 0.2629 0.2767 0.8836 0.1424 0.5884 0.6921 0.1023 0.8199 0.1487 0.0312 0.0142
Item18 (e) 0.1265 0.5012 0.2216 0.8872 0.2103 0.4146 0.6907 0.1093 0.6632 0.0842 0.0877 0.0035
Item18 (f) 0.5767 0.9932 0.3507 0.9505 0.1767 0.0000 0.5703 0.0439 0.2466 0.0068 0.0790 0.0055
Note. LS latent status; LS1 Frequent victim; LS2 Occasional traditional victim; LS3 Occasional cyber victim; LS4
Infrequent victim. Item 18: In the past 2 months, how often have other students been mean or negative to you (b) by pushing,
hitting, or kicking or other physical ways (on purpose)?; (c) by taking things from them or damaging their property?; (d) by
teasing, calling them names, threatening them verbally, or saying mean things to them?; (e) by excluding or ignoring them,
spreading rumors, or saying mean things about them to others, or getting others not to like them?; (f) by using computer, e-mail,
or phone text messages? The bold values indicate the relatively higher probabilities that are greater than 0.3333.

Table 3
Latent Class Prevalence ( Estimate) and Transition Matrix Estimates ( Estimates) Over 3 Time Points
on the Victimization Item
estimate estimate(a) estimate(b)
Time LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS4
F05 0.1123 0.2886 0.1034 0.4957 LS1 0.5268 0.2388 0.1429 0.0915 LS1 0.4197 0.3588 0.0533 0.1682
S06 0.1227 0.2914 0.1222 0.4936 LS2 0.1366 0.7181 0.0505 0.0928 LS2 0.0457 0.4096 0.0836 0.4611
F06 0.0908 0.1827 0.1283 0.5982 LS3 0.1417 0.0172 0.6844 0.1568 LS3 0.1043 0.0000 0.6116 0.2842
LS4 0.0180 0.1122 0.0420 0.8278 LS4 0.0285 0.0415 0.0490 0.8810
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Note. LS latent status; LS1 Frequent victim; LS2 Occasional traditional victim; LS3 Occasional cyber and traditional
victim; LS4 Infrequent victim; (a) Transition matrix from Fall 2005 to Spring 2006; (b) Transition matrix from Spring 2006
to Fall 2006. The bold values indicate the relatively higher transitions that are greater than 0.2000.

Gender. Model comparison results suggest 65%). Boys (0% to 52%) were less likely to
that each gender group had different initial latent remain in the occasional cyber and traditional
status prevalence and different transition matrix. victim class than girls (56% to 79%). Further
The probabilities of item parameters ( estimates) information on changes can be found in supple-
were almost identical to those in the overall sam- mental materials (see Tables S9 and S10).
ple, which indicated that the characteristics of Grade. Results of four model comparisons
latent statuses were also identical to each other, suggest the trend of being a member in each latent
and verified the assumption of measurement status was different across grade, but their changes
invariance. in latent statuses were the same. On the other
At Fall 2005, girls were more likely to be oc- hand, the probabilities of item parameters ( esti-
casional cyber and traditional victims (31%) than mates) were almost identical to those of overall
boys (3%); boys were more likely to be occa- group, which also supported the measurement in-
sional traditional victims (28%) than girls (12%), variance.
and there were more infrequent victims among Fifth graders indicated the highest probability
boys (58%) than girls (46%). From Fall 2005 to of being frequent victims (21%), followed by sixth
Spring 2006, 26% of frequent victim boys moved graders (12%), eighth graders (11%), seventh
into the occasional traditional victim group, and graders (9%), and ninth graders (6%). On the
22% of occasional traditional victim boys also other hand, ninth graders had a different trend
changed into frequent victims. On the other hand, from other students. Ninth graders reported lower
29% and 19% of girls in the frequent victim group probability of being in the occasional traditional
became occasional cyber and traditional victims victim group (11%) than other graders (ranging
and occasional traditional victims. From Spring from 27% to 39%), while reporting higher prob-
2006 to Fall 2006, all boys in the occasional cyber ability of being in the occasional cyber and tra-
and traditional victim group moved to either the ditional victim status (26%) than other grades
frequent victim group (20%) or the infrequent (ranging from 4% to 13%). In terms of probability
victim group (80%). For occasional cyber and of being in a specific latent status in Fall 2005,
traditional victim girls, the majority (56%) stayed in there were three clusters indicating similar preva-
that group, and 38% transitioned into the infrequent lence: fifth and sixth graders, seventh and eighth
victim group. Most girls in frequent victims (62%) graders, and ninth graders. The transition proba-
became occasional traditional victims (21%), bilities were the same across grades, which indi-
occasional cyber and traditional victims (20%), cated that all students stayed in the same latent
and infrequent victims (22%). In addition, 39% status except for 24% of the frequent victims who
of occasional traditional victims and 38% of changed into the occasional traditional victim
occasional cyber and traditional victims be- group from Fall 2005 to Spring 2006. This trend
came infrequent victims. At both time points, continued at the transition from Spring 2006 to
girls (38% to 40%) were less likely to remain in Fall 2006. In addition, 45% of the occasional
the frequent victim class than boys (43% to traditional victims and 30% of the occasional

cyber and traditional victims moved into the in- ferred to the group of students who were in-
frequent victim group. Further information on volved in bullying behaviors occasionally (once
changes can be found in supplemental materials or twice in the past 2 months) mainly verbally
(Tables S12 and S13). (61%) and relationally (39%), and to a lesser
ELL status. Consistent with the results of degree through physical harm to others (27%),
the grade analyses, the probability of being a destroying property (13%), and online methods
member in each latent status was different for the (16%). The item probabilities ( estimates)
language groups (ELL and non-ELL groups) but were summarized in Table 4.
their changes of latent statuses were the same. On Latent status prevalence indicates that most
the other hand, the probabilities of item parame- students were in the infrequent perpetrator
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ters ( estimates) were fairly similar compared group ranging from 66% to 72%, followed by
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with those of overall group, which also supports the occasional verbal/relational perpetrator
the measurement invariance. group ranging from 22% to 30%, and the fre-
We found differences in the probabilities of the quent perpetrator group ranging from 4% to 6%
occasional victim and the infrequent victim groups (see estimates in Table 5). The infrequent
across language groups: the English speaking perpetrators and the occasional verbal/rela-
group had higher probability in the occasional tional perpetrators tended to stay in their
victim group (33%) than the ELL group (18%), groups from Fall 2005 to Spring 2006 (88% and
and the ELL group had a higher probability to be 75%, respectively), and the frequent perpetra-
in the infrequent victim (62%) group than in the tors spread out to other latent statuses: 24% to
English speaking group (47%). Results also indi- the infrequent perpetrators and 35% to the oc-
cated that English speaking group had a slightly casional verbal/relational perpetrators. In ad-
higher probability to be in the occasional cyber dition, 19% of occasional verbal/relational per-
and traditional victim group (9%) than in the ELL petrators moved into the infrequent perpetrator
group (6%), but a lower probability to be in the group. From Spring 2006 to Fall 2006, the in-
frequent victim group (11%) than in the ELL frequent perpetrators (91%) tended to stay in
group (13%). The probabilities from frequent vic- their group, and the frequent perpetrators and
tims to occasional traditional victims and from the occasional verbal/relational perpetrators
occasional cyber and traditional victims to the spread out to other latent statuses. For example,
infrequent victims were relatively higher (46% 34.9% of occasional verbal/relational perpetra-
and 24%, respectively) after controlling for ELL tors moved into the infrequent perpetrator
status than probabilities from frequent victims to group (see estimates in Table 5).
occasional traditional victims and from occa- Gender. The best fitted model with the
sional cyber and traditional victims to infrequent gender covariate was the most parsimonious
victims in the overall sample (24% and 16%, re- one constraining both latent status prevalence
spectively). Further information on changes can and transition probabilities, suggesting there
be found in supplemental materials (see Tables were no gender differences.
S15 and S16). Grade. Different from gender, the trends of
change varied across grades. In terms of latent
Students Experience of Bullying status prevalence, sixth and ninth graders were
Perpetration less likely to be frequent perpetrators (3% and
1%, respectively) than other grades (probabili-
Results indicated a three-status model for ties ranging from 7% to 9%) in Fall 2005. On
bullying perpetration (instead of a four-status the other hand, eighth graders were less likely to
model in victimization). Frequent perpetrator be infrequent perpetrators (55%) than other
referred to the group engaging in bullying be- graders (probabilities of being an infrequent
haviors frequently (once or more a week) phys- perpetrator ranging from 66% to 77%). Simi-
ically (46%), verbally (66%), relationally larly, eighth graders were more likely to be in
(50%), and online (30%), as well as by destroy- the occasional verbal/relational perpetrators
ing others property (30%). Infrequent perpetra- (38%) group than other graders (probabilities
tor referred to the group of students who rarely ranging from 20% to 27%).
engaged in bullying behavior (less than 5%). Most frequent perpetrators among sixth and
Occasional verbal/relational perpetrator re- ninth graders remained in the same group (85%

Table 4
Estimate of Probabilities of Item Parameters on the Bullying Item
category Never Once or twice Once or more a week
Latent status LS1 LS2 LS3 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS1 LS2 LS3
Item22 (b) 0.2644 0.9740 0.7217 0.2754 0.0253 0.2678 0.4603 0.0006 0.0105
Item22 (c) 0.3943 0.9886 0.8605 0.3068 0.0114 0.1331 0.2989 0.0000 0.0064
Item22 (d) 0.1206 0.9513 0.3371 0.2226 0.0429 0.6131 0.6568 0.0058 0.0498
Item22 (e) 0.2398 0.9604 0.5953 0.2605 0.0394 0.3862 0.4996 0.0002 0.0185
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Item22 (f) 0.4717 0.9803 0.8297 0.2234 0.0178 0.1579 0.3049 0.0019 0.0124
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Note. LS latent status; LS1 Frequent perpetrator; LS2 Infrequent perpetrator; LS3 Occasional verbal/relational
perpetrator. Item 22: In the past 2 months, how often have you been mean or negative toward others? (b) by pushing, hitting,
or kicking or other physical ways (on purpose)?; (c) by taking things from them or damaging their property?; (d) by teasing,
calling them names, threatening them verbally, or saying mean things to them?; (e) by excluding or ignoring them, spreading
rumors, or saying mean things about them to others, or getting others not to like them?; (f) by using computer, e-mail, or phone
text messages? The bold values indicate the relatively higher probabilities that are greater than 0.3333.

and 100%, respectively) during the school year 16% in Fall 2006, which was the biggest in-
(from Fall 2005 to Spring 2006); however, only crease across grades. Further information on
28% and 0% of the frequent perpetrators changes can be found in supplemental materials
among sixth and ninth graders remained in the (see Tables S25 and S26).
same status from Spring 2006 to Fall 2006. That ELL status. Results of the model compar-
is, the total number of frequent perpetrators ison suggested group difference for both latent
among sixth and ninth graders remained stable status prevalence and transition matrix proba-
during the school year and then decreased as bilities. The ELL group had slightly higher
those students became seventh and tenth grad- probability of being in the frequent perpetrator
ers. However, 78% and 62% of the frequent group and the occasional verbal/relational per-
perpetrators among fifth and eighth graders petrator group, 8% and 31%, than those in
tended to remain in the same status when they English speaking groups, 5% and 25%, respec-
became sixth and ninth graders, after the school tively. That is, the ELL group reported slightly
transition. Another interesting finding was that more involvement in bullying perpetration. On
38% of the occasional verbal/relational perpe- the other hand, the frequent perpetrators in the
trators among fifth graders moved into the fre- ELL group tended to either stay in the same
quent perpetrator group after transiting into status (30% at Spring 2006 and 54% at Fall
middle schools. Furthermore, about 5% of fifth 2006) or move to the infrequent perpetrator
graders were in the frequent perpetrator group group (70% at Spring 2006 and 46% at Fall
in Spring 2006, but the probability increased 2006), but did not move to the occasional ver-

Table 5
Latent Class Prevalence ( Estimate) and Transition Matrix Estimates ( Estimates) Over 3 Time Points
on the Bullying Item
estimate estimate(a) estimate(b)
Time LS1 LS2 LS3 LS1 LS2 LS3 LS1 LS2 LS3
F05 0.0512 0.6884 0.2604 LS1 0.4171 0.2387 0.3466 LS1 0.4569 0.3133 0.2297
S06 0.0392 0.6642 0.2966 LS2 0.0093 0.8750 0.1157 LS2 0.0265 0.9117 0.0617
F06 0.0564 0.7215 0.2222 LS3 0.0444 0.1907 0.7648 LS3 0.0702 0.3492 0.5806
Note. LS latent status; LS1 Frequent perpetrator; LS2 Infrequent perpetrator; LS3 Occasional verbal/relational
perpetrator; (a) Transition matrix from Fall 2005 (F05) to Spring 2006 (S06); (b) Transition matrix from Spring 2006 to Fall 2006
(F06). The bold values indicate the relatively higher transitions that are greater than 0.2000.

bal/relational perpetrator group. Frequent per- tional victims, and 9% to 12% students were
petrators among the English speaking group frequent victims. The finding is somewhat con-
tended to move into the occasional verbal/ sistent with previous research which found that
relational perpetrator group (40% at Spring a small percentage of individuals accounted for
2006 and 28% at Fall 2006) and infrequent the majority of antisocial behaviors (Falk et al.,
perpetrator (18% at Spring 2006 and 27% at 2014). Our findings highlight the importance of
Fall 2006). Further information on changes can latent statuses and their transitions, as the prev-
be found in supplemental materials (see Tables alence rates vary based on the cut-off criteria
S28 and S29). (weekly vs. monthly) and different forms of
bullying/victimization measured (Swearer et al.,
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Discussion 2010). Traditional bullying interventions focus

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on teaching the bullying perpetrators social

Few studies have explored changes in bully- skills, and group formats are often used. How-
ing and victimization over three time points. ever, having a group of frequent perpetrators in
Previous studies have mainly used observed a social skills group may actually promote ag-
data of frequency measures instead of using gression and reinforce bullying behaviors
latent status to capture the changes in bullying (Dishion, McCord, & Poulin, 1999; Dodge,
and victimization, which neither focuses on in- Dishion, & Lansford, 2006). Considering the
dividual change over time nor reveals the small number of frequent perpetrators, individ-
change of latent statuses representing the true ualized interventions may be more appropriate
membership in terms of bully/victim statuses. to target specific behavioral deficiencies and
This study used LTA with five perpetration adjustment difficulties among bully perpetra-
items and five victimization items to model tions.
individual changes in bullying behavior and
victimization and examined the effects of gen- Victimization and Bullying Classes
der, grade, and ELL status on the transition.
Because LTA is a data-driven method, results Using latent class analysis, Nylund et al.
may vary if different measures and different (2007) suggested that victim groups are better
populations are used. However, based on previ- classified by the severity of victimization in-
ous research (e.g., Reijntjes et al., 2013) and on stead of types. Partially consistent with Nylund
our results, it is likely that the groups will be et al. (2007), results from the current investiga-
partially based on frequency (not involved, tion indicated four distinct victim groups based
sometimes involved, and frequently involved). on both severity (weekly vs. monthly) and type
It is unlikely that the groups will be based (traditional vs. cyber). Specifically, we found
solely on the type of bullying/victimization two groups of occasionally victimized students
because students tend to engage in different who differed in the types of victimization they
types of bullying behaviors/victimization si- experienced. One group reported experiencing
multaneously, making it impossible to sepa- cyber and relational and verbal victimization, as
rate different groups only by the type of bul- well as physical victimization (although to a
lying/victimization. lesser degree). The other group reported expe-
riencing physical, verbal, and relational victim-
Prevalence Rates ization, but not cyber victimization. The finding
supports the claim that cyber victimization is a
Results from the current study indicate that distinct construct from physical, verbal, and re-
most students (66% to 72%) rarely participated lational victimization (Smith, 2012), as it dif-
in bullying perpetration, 22% to 30% of stu- ferentiated the two occasional victim groups in
dents occasionally engaged in bullying behavior our study. Furthermore, findings from the cur-
toward others, and only 4% to 6% students rent study suggest that both severity and type
regularly bullied others. On the other hand, are important in distinguishing different victim
most students (49% to 60%) were rarely in- groups.
volved with victimization, 18% to 29% students Our results identified three groups of bullying
were occasional traditional victims, 10% to perpetrators based on the severity instead of the
13% students were occasional cyber and tradi- type, namely frequent perpetrators, occasional

verbal/relational perpetrators, and infrequent form of peer victimization (Smith, 2012).

perpetrators. These results are consistent with Adults need to educate students about cyber
previous findings (Reijntjes et al., 2013; Wang, safety and monitor students technology use to
Iannotti, & Luk, 2012) in that type is not an help prevent cyber victimization.
important factor in distinguishing different per- We found that although bullying behaviors
petrator groups. It appears that all perpetrators and victimization are highly stable for the in-
use different forms of bullying behaviors to frequently involved groups (83%91% infre-
target their victims, although perpetrators differ quent perpetrators and victims tended to stay in
in the frequency of their involvement. the same group), it is less stable among the
frequently involved groups (54%58% frequent
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Changes in Bullying Behaviors perpetrators and 47%58% frequent victims

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and Victimization transitioned into other groups). This finding

suggests that bullying behaviors and victimiza-
Consistent with previous research (e.g., Ny- tion are dynamic phenomena, which challenges
lund et al., 2007; Smith et al., 1999), we found the notion that aggression and victimization are
that bullying and victimization decreased over highly stable from late childhood to adoles-
time and students tended to transition from a cence (Scholte, Engels, Overbeek, de Kemp, &
more frequent perpetrator class into a less fre- Haselager, 2007). Early intervention is critical
quent perpetrator class over time. This finding in order to teach bullying perpetrators replace-
suggests other malleable factors in the environ- ment prosocial behaviors before their aggres-
ment may have an influence on group member- sion becomes stable (Bettencourt et al., 2013).
ship (i.e., maturation, peer norms). However, Gender differences. Different from Miller
the patterns were different during the school et al. (2013), current results did not indicate any
transition year. The prevalence and frequency gender differences in bullying perpetration to
of bullying perpetration increased from fifth to support the assertion that aggressive behavior is
sixth grades. During the sixth grade year, most less stable among girls than boys. However, we
of the frequent perpetrators remained in the found that girls were more likely to experience
same status, and then became less involved in verbal/relational and cyber victimization than
perpetration when they became seventh graders. boys, and boys were more likely to be physi-
It is likely that the new sixth graders used bul- cally victimized. This gender difference in ver-
lying behaviors as a means to gain social status bal/relational and cyber victimization is consis-
after their school transition. Our findings are tent with previous research (Kowalski &
consistent with social dominance theory and Limber, 2007; Li, 2007), but different from
previous studies, which have found that bully- other studies finding no gender differences (e.g.,
ing tends to increase after the school transition, Jackson & Cohen, 2012; Storch et al., 2005). In
and then decreases afterward (Pellegrini & Bar- addition, different from Cook, Williams,
tini, 2000; Pellegrini & Long, 2002). Consider- Guerra, Kim, and Sadek (2010), we found boys
ing the unique pattern during school transitions, were less likely to be victimized in general
carefully designed interventions should target compared with girls. The inconsistent findings
new sixth grade students as they adjust to the in this study and previous studies may speak to
middle school environment and to new peer the complexity of the role of gender in peer
groups. Interventions should focus on teaching victimization. Other factors (e.g., grade, school
social-emotional learning skills to students climate, peer norms) in addition to gender are
(e.g., www.casel.org) and appropriate ways to likely to play a role in peer victimization. Con-
navigate new peer groups and social hierarchies sistent with previous research (Nylund et al.,
(Faris & Felmlee, 2014). 2007), we found girls were less likely to remain
An interesting finding is that although victim- in the frequent victim class than boys over time.
ization decreased in general, cyber victimiza- Furthermore, girls were more likely to remain in
tion increased over time. The increase in cyber the occasional cyber and traditional victim
victimization may be related to increased access class than boys, which is consistent with previ-
to the Internet and mobile devices as adoles- ous findings that girls experience more cyber
cents get older. The distinct pattern of cyber victimization than boys (Kowalski & Limber,
victimization also suggests that it is a unique 2007; Li, 2007). Over time, peer victimization

decreased in frequency and developed into more ferences. Future studies (e.g., qualitative studies
verbal/relational and cyber forms, especially for interviewing ELL students about the reasons of
girls. In general, our findings provide support to their perpetration and victimization) are needed
Gilligans theory (Gilligan, 1982) that girls are to better understand this phenomenon. Over-
more concerned with relationships than boys. time, native speakers were more likely to tran-
Grade differences. Our results indicated sition from the frequent perpetrators to the oc-
that the youngest students at school (sixth grad- casional verbal/relational perpetrators than
ers in the middle school and ninth graders in the ELL students. However, it is not clear whether
high school) were less likely to be the frequent this is related to their English language compe-
perpetrators and the oldest students at school tencies or not. As ELL students become more
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(eighth graders in the middle school) were more proficient in English, are they more likely to
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likely to engage in bullying perpetration, spe- engage in relationally bullying behaviors? This
cifically, verbal and relational bullying behav- is an interesting question that deserves further
iors. Considering that eighth graders were the exploration.
oldest students at their middle school, they were
more likely to be taller, stronger, and have more Limitations and Future Directions
power compared with younger students, which
may put them at a physical and social advantage There are several limitations of the current
to engage in bullying behaviors toward younger study. First, only students self-report were used.
students. Comparisons across grade levels indi- Students may have underreported their experi-
cated the probability of being a frequent victim ences of bullying and peer victimization due to
decreased from fifth to ninth grade, which also social desirability (Ivarsson, Broberg, Arvidsson,
supports the decrease in peer victimization over & Gillberg, 2005). However, one may argue that
time (Smith et al., 1999). In addition, we found students views regarding bullying and victimiza-
that ninth graders were more likely to be occa- tion are most important because they reflect their
sional cyber and traditional victims compared personal experiences and are possibly more accu-
with other students. It is possible that ninth rate because the bullying may be undetected by
graders have more access to Internet and cell teachers (Card & Hodges, 2008). Future studies
phones, which increases their chance of being should integrate information from multiple infor-
cyber and traditional victims. mants (e.g., peers and teachers) to provide better
The effect of ELL status. Few studies construct validity. Furthermore, students in the
have examined the relationship between first current study were recruited from one city in the
language spoken and involvement in bullying/ Midwest and the majority of students were Euro-
victimization over time. Although some previ- pean American. The findings may not be readily
ous studies found that ELL students experi- generalizable to students living in rural areas or
enced higher level of peer victimization than other socially and politically different areas. Fur-
native speakers (von Grnigen et al., 2010), thermore, we did not assess ELL students English
results from the current study did not support language competency. Future studies should ex-
this difference. Instead, ELL students were amine ELL students English language competen-
more likely to be infrequent victims and to be cies to rule out whether language difficulties may
bully perpetrators (frequent or occasional ver- contribute to their experiences of bullying/
bal/relational perpetrators) than native speak- victimization. Future researchers may also con-
ers; however, we were unable to test whether sider translating measures into languages other
the difference is significant at each latent status than English in order to capture the experiences of
because the latent membership was not reported victimization among students with limited English
in the LTA. We do not know whether ELL language competencies. In addition, the PRB
students mainly bullied other students of differ- measure has only shown acceptable psychometric
ent ethnic backgrounds or within their own eth- properties, with internal consistency above .70
nic groups. It is possible that as the minority and somewhat limited support for the validity of
ethnic group in their schools, ELL students en- the measure (only correlations with other mea-
gaged in bullying behaviors toward others sures). It is important to mention that different
slightly more often than their peers because they items in the PRB measure capture different sub-
felt frustrated about language and cultural dif- types of bullying behaviors, which contributes to

relatively low reliability. Future studies are needed intervention resources on students in the sixth and
to continue examining the psychometric proper- eighth grades. Furthermore, it is important for
ties of this measure, for example, using confirma- school personnel to be aware of and pay attention
tory factor analysis to examine the factor structure to verbal/relational and cyberbullying, because re-
of the measure and reliabilities within the factor sults suggest that peer victimization develops into
structure (Raykov, 1997, 2004). Last but not least, more verbal/relational and cyber types over time,
the occasional involvement groups refer to the especially for girls. Considering the gender differ-
students who self-reported bullying and/or victim- ences in peer victimization, different interventions
ization once or twice in the past 2 months, which may be warranted for boys and girls. Interventions
may fail to capture the repetitive nature of bully- for girls may focus on relationship issues and
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ing. This is a limitation of the PRB measure, appropriate use of social media, whereas interven-
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which was designed to assess bullying involve- tions for boys may address physical bullying. It is
ment in students across several countries (i.e., important for teachers and parents to talk to ado-
Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea, and the United lescents about cyber safety and to supervise ado-
States). Given that the length of the school year is lescents Internet and mobile device use to help
different across countries and the structure of the prevent cyber victimization. It is also important
school day also varies across countries, the Pacific for adults to take reports of verbal/relational bul-
Rim research team delimited involvement to the lying and cyberbullying seriously and to intervene
past 2 months in order to create a measure that not only during physical bullying, but also with
was relevant across several Pacific Rim countries. types of bullying that might be less obvious. Con-
sidering that a small percentage of students are
Implications responsible for the majority of bullying behaviors,
it is important to consider the use of individualized
Because students involved in bullying and vic- specific interventions for those frequent perpetra-
timization represent heterogeneous subgroups, tors. Only when bullying interventions are devel-
with different degrees of involvement and types of opmentally based, gender- and culturally sensi-
bullying, it is important to develop prevention and tive, and address all types of bullying, will
intervention efforts that address these differences. American schools be free from bullying and cruel
For example, interventions for the occasional cy- behaviors.
ber victim group should include psychoeducation
on cyber safety to promote awareness, while in-
terventions for the frequent victims should focus References
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