Perceived social support among bullies, victims, and bully-victims

Melissa K. Holt, Dorothy L. Espelage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research indicates that social support plays a protective role among adolescents, but little research has explicitly evaluated its function among youth involved in bullying. Accordingly, this study examined relations among social support, bully/victim status, and psychological distress in a sample of 784 ethnically diverse youth. We assessed differences in perceived social support across bully/victim subtypes, and evaluated peer and maternal social support as protective factors among victims, bullies, and bully-victims. Youth were classified as uninvolved (61.6%), as bullies (14.3%), as victims (12.5%), and as bully-victims (11.6%). Uninvolved youth reported the most peer and maternal social support and the least anxiety/depression. Multivariate analyses revealed that there was a significant interaction between bully/victim groups and peer social support. Specifically, bullies, victims, and bully-victims who reported moderate peer social support also indicated the least anxiety/depression. Results highlight the importance of encouraging youth to develop and effectively use peer support networks as part of bullying intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-994
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Adolescence
  • Bullying
  • Social support
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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