Bullying as a Developmental Precursor to Sexual and Dating Violence Across Adolescence: Decade in Review

Dorothy L. Espelage, Katherine M. Ingram, Jun Sung Hong, Gabriel J. Merrin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Adolescent bullying continues to be a major focus of scholarship across the globe. This article reviews research from 2010 to 2021 with a particular focus on longitudinal studies of the bully–sexual violence pathway (BSVP), where bullying serves as a precursor for sexual violence (SV) (e.g., sexual harassment, sexual coercion, and sexual assault) and teen dating violence via individual and socio-contextual mediators. Articles reviewed consisted of a total of 505, which included 17 meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Databases used for the search were Academic Search Complete, Education Full Text (H. W. Wilson), ERIC, National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts, PsycINFO, PubMed (Medline), and Social Sciences Abstracts (H. W. Wilson). In total, 107 peer-reviewed articles were included in this review. Potential mechanisms underlying the BSVP include social dominance orientation, exposure to sexual education, and alcohol use. Several school-based intervention approaches have evidenced marginal success in reducing rates of bullying and SV by targeting factors undergirding both behaviors. The efficacy of international prevention approaches is summarized. Gaps in the literature are identified and future research is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1358-1370
Number of pages13
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • bullying
  • bully–sexual violence pathway
  • sexual violence
  • teen dating violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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