Patterns of School Victimization and Problem Behaviors: Longitudinal Associations with Socioeconomic Well-Being and Criminal Justice Involvement

Ryan D. Heath, Kevin Tan, Jennifer S. Guzzy, Briyana Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Middle school victimization and problem behaviors often co-occur, but little is known about patterns of co-occurrence, or how long effects persist into adulthood. Objective: Drawing on general strain theory, this study aimed to identify sex-specific profiles of victimization and problem behaviors during middle school, and their association with socioeconomic, violence, and criminal justice outcomes in young adulthood. Method: Latent class analyses was conducted on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth–1997, including subsamples of seventh grade females (n = 529) and males (n = 494). Results: Two classes were identified for females: (1) low-risk and (2) high-risk; these classes were associated with outcomes in the hypothesized directions. For males, however, there were three groups: (1) low-risk, which reported low rates of victimization and problem behaviors; (2) victimized, with high victimization but low rates of problem behaviors; and (3) high-risk, with high rates of both victimization and problem behaviors. Interestingly, victimized males had socioeconomic and criminal justice outcomes similar to low-risk males, but rates of assault comparable to high-risk males. For example, victimized males were five times more likely to obtain a college degree than high-risk males (27.1% versus 4.6%) and three times less likely to live in poverty (9.5% versus 25.9%), but only slightly less likely to commit assault (41.7% versus 59.8%). However, there was alarming over-representation of Black youth in the high-risk groups. Conclusions: Findings emphasize the urgency with which schools and community agencies need to address victimization and problem behaviors among adolescents, but simultaneously target structural racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Criminal justice
  • Educational attainment
  • Poverty
  • School problem behaviors
  • School victimization
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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