Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Julia A Snethen

Committee Members

Rachel Schiffman, Seok Hyun Gwon, Marty Sapp


bullying, characteristics, self-harm, student, violence






Terese Blakeslee

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2020

Under the Supervision of Professor Dr. Julia Snethen

Problem/Significance: The prevalence of bullying remains consistently elevated among students in Grade 9 through Grade 12. A closer look at factors with relationships among high school population subsets experiencing bullying brings new insight to this complex issue.

Background: The bullying phenomenon has been associated with behaviors of violence, self-harm, and experiencing bullying.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine relationships over time between adolescent characteristics, experiencing violence, risk for self-harm, and the prevalence of experiencing bullying.

Method: De-identified data from the Centers for Disease Control YRBS 2011-2017 were compared year-to-year for comparisons across time. Adolescent characteristics were measured by grade, race and ethnicity, and gender. Violence was measured as feeling unsafe, threatened, fighting, carrying weapons, and carrying a gun. Risk for self-harm was measured as sadness and considered, planned, and number of suicidal attempts. Bullying was defined as an aggressive peer behavior comprised of an imbalance of power, repetition, and intent to harm the victim.

Results: Ninth grade students were more likely to experience violence (343.39 p < 001), risk for self-harm behaviors (X2 35.05 p < .001), and bullying (X2 92.25 p < .001). White students (80%) were more likely to experience violence behaviors compared to students of all other races and ethnicities (20%) across the years (X296.46, p < .001). Female students (60%) were more likely to experience bullying at least one way (X2 891.74, p < .001). High-school students who reported risk for self-harm behaviors were 4.64 times more likely to have experienced bullying electronically.

Conclusions: Students in ninth grade were more likely than other grades to experience violence, self-harm, and bullying at school or electronically. Violent behaviors were more common among male students who experienced bullying. Self-harm behaviors were more common among female students who experienced bullying. Bullying prevention efforts should target all students.

Key words: student characteristics, violence, self-harm, bullying

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