Bullying perpetration and subsequent sexual violence perpetration among middle school students

Dorothy L. Espelage, Kathleen C. Basile, Merle E. Hamburger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the association between bullying experiences and sexual violence (SV) perpetration among a sample of middle school students (n = 1391; males and females in grades 58) across five middle schools in a Midwestern state. We include waves 1 and 2 of a larger longitudinal study that aimed to track the overlap between bullying and SV victimization and/or perpetration across a 3-year period. Wave 1 data were collected in the spring of 2008, and wave 2 data were collected in the fall of 2008. Student participants completed a series of scales in a paper and pencil survey. After missing data imputation, a total sample of 1391 students was analyzed. Using cutoff scores, 12% of males and 12% of females could be considered bully perpetrators. Thirty-two percent of the boys (22% of girls) reported making sexual comments to other students, 5% of boys (7% of girls) spread a sexual rumor, and 4% of boys (2% of girls) pulled at someone's clothing. Bullying perpetration and homophobic teasing were significant predictors of sexual harassment perpetration over time. Given the overlap among bullying, homophobic teasing perpetration, and SV perpetration, future studies should address the link among these forms of aggression so that prevention programs can be enhanced to address gender-based bullying and sexual harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Bullying
  • Homophobic teasing
  • Perpetration
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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