205969 Bullying Behaviors Among Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth: Prevalence and Association With Substance Abuse, Violence and Psychosocial Behaviors

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Charisse Jenkins, MSPH , Epidemiology Program, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte, NC
Donna Elaine Smith, MSPH , Epidemiology Program, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte, NC
Maria Bonaiuto, RN, MSN , Administrative Core Services, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte, NC
Nancy Lagenfeld , Coordinated School Health, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, Charlotte, NC
The National Association of School Psychologists estimates that 15% to 30% of students nationwide are either bullies or victims. Bullying is often defined as the repeated and targeted harassment and attacks on others perpetrated by individuals or groups. It encompasses a wide spectrum of aggressive behaviors, including: physical violence, verbal taunts, name-calling and putdowns, threats and intimidation, extortion or stealing of money and possessions and/or exclusion from peer groups. Current research links bullying among high school and middle school students with other troubling issues such as: suicide, substance abuse, and violent behavior.

Starting in 2005, with encouragement and support from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Mecklenburg County Health Department (MCHD) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) formed a partnership in order to conduct a local Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in the high and middle school setting. Questions were asked of students about being bullied or harassed on school property. The 2007 CMS YRBS showed that almost 20% of students reported either having been harassed or bullied on school property.

Experiencing bullying was positively associated with several poor behavior practices. Students who reported being bullied also reported being in a physical fight (25%), considering suicide (37%) and use of cocaine (34%).

Results from the study demonstrated the complexities of bullying and its subsequent effect on adolescent health. Preliminary analyses were used to support the development and implementation of anti-bullying policies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg school systems.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of bullying in a high school population. 2. Assess the relationship between bullying and violence, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse. 3. Describe the importance of using data to support anti-bullying policy developments.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an epidemiologist that is responsible for data analysis and reporting of behavioral risk factors for both adults and adolescents in Mecklenburg County, NC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.