Ethnicity and bullying involvement in a national UK youth sample

Neil Tippett, University of Warwick

Neil Tippett

Co Authors
Dieter Wolke, Lucinda Platt

Bullying, youth, ethnicity

There is compelling evidence that the experience of bullying in childhood adversely impacts on health and life outcomes. To limit this negative impact it is important to identify factors that are associated with being bullied or engaging in bullying behaviours. Ethnicity is one factor which may contribute to exposure to peer victimisation; however, few studies directly address this issue, hence there is continuing debate over whether rates of bullying differ between ethnic groups. The present study aimed to investigate whether there were ethnic differences in bullying involvement (as victim and bully) among a UK wide sample of adolescents.

Participants were 4,668 youths, aged between 10 and 15, who participated in Wave 1 of Understanding Society. Bullying was assessed using multiple self-report measures, and ethnic group was identified using a self-report classification question based on the 2011 National Census. Binary logistic regression models examined ethnic differences across bullying roles while controlling for potential confounders of age, gender, household structure, economic situation and parent-adolescent relationships. Results indicate that overall, ethnic minority youth were no more likely to become victims. Among perpetrators of bullying, both Pakistani and Caribbean youths were more likely to bully others than White youths, however this effect was entirely explained by gender. Pakistani and Caribbean girls were significantly more likely to bully others than White girls.

The findings are positive in showing that ethnic minority youth are no more likely to be victimized than white youth. However, the differential involvement found for bullying perpetration opens potential avenues for future research, which should attempt to replicate and investigate why Pakistani and Caribbean girls were found to be more often perpetrators of bullying than girls in other ethnic groups.