Online and Health Risk Behaviors in High School Students:
An Examination of Bullying
Meghan N. Long and Elizabeth B. Dowdell
Background/Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the health and online risk behaviors of adolescents who bully, are victims of bullying, and those who report being both a bully and victim (bully-victim).
Methods: This descriptive correlational study used a secondary analysis design from a larger study of high school students. This sample consisted of 975 adolescents (48% female and 52% male); who reported one or more experiences of bullying in person.
Results: Findings revealed significant differences (p<0.0001) between type of bully as well as type of victim. Bullies were more likely to report having trouble in school, vandalize property, smoke cigarettes, and engage in illicit drug use. Those who reported being a bully-victim were more likely to drink alcohol while driving, post personal information online, view inappropriate material online, and sext. Victims reported participating in some health and online risk behaviors, but were less likely to engage in these behaviors compared to bullies and bully-victims.
Conclusion and Implications: Although all groups reported participating in health and online risk behaviors, bullies had overwhelmingly higher health risk behaviors, while the bully-victim group reported higher online risk behaviors. Findings from this study suggest important areas of intervention with adolescents who bully, are victimized, and partake in health and online risk behaviors. Specifically, nurses as well as community leaders can develop interdisciplinary educational programs that focus on prevention, risk reduction, and safety, as well as implement an evidencebased practice model that incorporates a screening tool, brief interventions, and referrals for treatment for at-risk adolescents with correlational risk behaviors.