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


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)
Pages (from-to)439-461
Number of pages23
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • 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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