Bullying hinders positive youth development for sexual-minority youth

January 25, 2016

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 25, 2016 - When compared with their heterosexual peers, sexual-minority youth score lower on key indicators of positive youth development--and those disparities may be due in part to more bullying of these adolescents, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers have found.

The findings, funded partly by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are published online and scheduled for an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"This research quantifies how bullying hinders sexual-minority youths' access to the essential building blocks of health and well-being," said lead author Robert W.S. Coulter, M.P.H., a doctoral student in Pitt Public Health's Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. "Anti-bullying policies at schools are necessary but insufficient. Multifaceted interventions in all arenas, including schools, families and communities, should focus on building more accepting and supportive environments for sexual-minority youth."

Mr. Coulter and his colleagues used data from a survey of 1,870 adolescents at U.S. schools and after-school programs in 45 states that measured positive youth development using the "Five Cs" model, which assesses competence, confidence, connection, character and caring/compassion. Higher levels of the Five Cs are associated with positive contributions to society, and lower levels are linked to myriad risky behaviors, including cigarette smoking, alcohol use and younger sexual initiation. The survey also asked participants whether they had been bullied several times in the past several months.

Of the participants, 127 - or 6.8 percent - were identified as sexual-minority youth, meaning they reported having both-gender attractions or same-gender attractions only. Nearly 24 percent of them reported being a victim of bullying, compared with 12 percent of the heterosexual youths.

The sexual-minority youths scored significantly lower than their heterosexual counterparts in three of the Five Cs: competence, defined as having a positive view of one's actions in social, academic, cognitive and vocational arenas; confidence, defined as an internal sense of overall positive self-worth; and connection, defined as having supportive and positive bonds with peers, family, school and community.

"However, when we adjusted our models to control for the effects of bullying victimization, the differences in scores between sexual-minority and heterosexual youths reduced," said Mr. Coulter. "This suggests that bullying partly explains why sexual-minority youth had lower competence, confidence and connection."

Mr. Coulter went on to emphasize that bullying is not the only factor causing lower positive youth development scores for sexual-minority youths, but that other factors are likely contributing.

"Bullying is only one part of the story. It is one manifestation of more pervasive problems, such as stigma and discrimination," he said. "We need to take a holistic approach to positive youth development and create evidence-based programs that bring about a cultural change, allowing all youths, regardless of their sexual orientation, the same opportunity to thrive."
-end-
Additional authors on this research are A.L. Herrick, Ph.D., M. Reuel Friedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Ron D. Stall, Ph.D., M.P.H., all of Pitt Public Health.

This research was supported by the National 4-H Council and the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse grant no. F31DA037647.

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school's Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

http://www.upmc.com/media

Contact: Allison Hydzik
Phone: 412-647-9975
E-mail: HydzikAM@upmc.eduContact: Wendy Zellner
Phone: 412-586-9777
E-mail: ZellnerWL@upmc.edu

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.