Date of Award

Fall 11-15-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Joel Meyers

Second Advisor

Kristen Varjas

Third Advisor

Catherine Brack

Fourth Advisor

Greg Brack

Fifth Advisor

Kenneth Matheny

Abstract

Retrospective studies of college students who recall experiencing bullying during childhood and/or adolescence have found that being the target of bullying may place one at greater risk for depression (Roth, Coles, & Heimburg, 2002; Storch et al., 2001), anxiety disorders (McCabe, et al., 2003; Roth et al.) and interpersonal relationships (Schafer et al., 2004) in comparison to peers who do not recall a history of bullying during childhood or adolescence. However, researchers have found that not all targets of bullying develop such problems in adulthood (Schafer et al., 2004; Dempsey & Storch, 2008). Little attention has been devoted to understanding resiliency among adults who experienced bullying during childhood and/or adolescence (Davidson & Demaray, 2007). The purpose of this dissertation was to 1). Explore gender and racial/ethnic differences in recall of perceived seriousness of past bullying experiences 2). Replicate past findings regarding the association between past experiences with bullying and depression, anxiety, and loneliness in college students 3). Explore whether coping resources accounted for differences in symptoms of distress. A total of 211 college students completed the Retrospective Bullying Questionnaire (Schaefer, et al, 2004); The Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1982); UCLA Loneliness Scale (Russell, 1996) and the Coping Resources Inventory for Stress-Short form (CRIS-SF; Matheny, Curlette, Aycock, & Curlette, 1993). Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to investigate gender and racial/ethnic differences in perceived seriousness of bullying. Hierarchical linear regression was used to test whether coping resources moderated the relationship between psychosocial distress in adults and past experiences with bullying. Females in this study reported that they perceived their experiences with relational bullying during middle/high school to be more serious than males. There were no significant differences between males and females in perceived seriousness of physical bullying during elementary or middle/high school, verbal bullying during elementary or middle/high school or relational bullying during elementary school. Males and females did not differ significantly in the duration of bullying experiences. White students reported that they perceived their experiences with relational and verbal bullying during middle/high school in middle/high school to be more serious. There were no significant differences between the racial/ethnic groups in perceived seriousness of physical, verbal, or relational bullying during elementary school. There also were no significant differences among the racial/ethnic groups duration of bullying. Implications for future research and clinical practice are addressed. Perceived seriousness of bullying and duration of bullying during childhood and adolescence was found to predict depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Coping resources were not found to be significant moderators of distress.

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