Social–Emotional Functioning Among Bias-Based Bullies, Victims, and Bully-Victims

Nicolina V. Fusco, Melissa K. Holt, Gabriel J. Merrin, Jennifer Greif Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bias-based harassment in U.S. schools is an increasingly significant concern for students’ well-being. Although research on bullying broadly defined has indicated that the ways in which youth are involved in bullying (i.e., as bullies, victims, and bully-victims) are differentially associated with functioning, this study adds to extant research by exploring whether similar patterns emerge for bias-based harassment. A nationally representative sample of 639 adolescents, ages 13–17, completed online surveys in 2021 that included measures of bias-based harassment, anxiety, depression, substance use, and school social support. Findings from a multivariate latent variable model indicated that after controlling for demographic variables, compared to individuals not involved in bias-based harassment, students involved as victims, perpetrators, or both victims and perpetrators of bias-based harassment (i.e., bias-based bully-victims) reported more mental health symptoms. Substance use was elevated for bias-based perpetrators and bullyvictims, whereas school social support was diminished for bias-based victims and bully-victims. Notably, bias-based bully-victims had the highest levels of anxiety symptoms and substance use, and lowest levels of school social support, among all adolescents. Findings highlight that involvement in bias-based harassment in any capacity is associated with deleterious functioning, with bias-based bully-victims reporting particularly adverse functioning across domains. Bolstering protective factors such as school social support would be a useful component of school practices and prevention programs related to bias-based harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSchool Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • bias-based harassment
  • mental health
  • perpetration
  • substance use
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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