Bullying in Social Context: Are Impoverished Adolescents at a Greater Risk of Being Bullied in Affluent Neighborhoods?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Hlin KRISTBERGSDOTTIR, University of Iceland, Iceland
Jon Gunnar BERNBURG, University of Iceland, Iceland
This study examines how the interplay of neighborhood context and household situation influences the likelihood of bullying victimization among individual adolescents. Although scholars have emphasized that the interplay of social conditions and individual characteristics influences bullying, research on bullying rarely focuses on the interaction between individual-level and social contextual factors. We argue that impoverished adolescents living in affluent neighborhoods may face a particularly high risk of stigma and social isolation from their peers, and hence they may be at a greater risk of becoming the victims of school bullying than impoverished adolescents belonging to impoverished neighborhoods. Accordingly, we hypothesize that 1) neighborhood income inequality is positively associated with bullying victimization, 2) adolescents from impoverished households have a higher risk of being bullied if they live in more affluent neighborhoods, and 3) peer relations mediate these conditional effects of household poverty on victimization. We use survey data on 5491 adolescents and registered data about the characteristics of 83 school districts in Iceland. We use hierarchical binary regression to examine the interactive effects of household poverty, neighborhood affluence, and relations to peers on the probability of victimization. As predicted, results show that household poverty has a significantly more pronounced effect on bullying victimization in more affluent communities. Moreover, peer relationships partially mediate these contingent effects of household poverty on victimization.