Impact of School Social Support and Bullying Victimization on Psychological Distress among California Adolescents
Background and Purpose: National reports showed that over 20% of high school students were victims of bullying, which could potentially lead to psychological problems. School social support may be protective against mental distress linked with victimization. This study examined the main and moderating effects of social support from adults in schools on non-specific serious psychological distress (SPD) related to victimization among California adolescents. Methods: Utilizing the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), we analyzed a representative sample of 2,799 adolescents aged 12-17 years old. Logistic regression analyses were conducted modeling the odds of SPD in relation to school social support and victimization. Results: Adolescents who were victimized were twice as likely to have SPD compared to non-victims. Higher level of social support from adults in schools was protective against SPD, but did not buffer the effect of bullying exposure. Discussion: Findings from the present study suggested that adult support from schools can help with students’ psychological problems but does not appear to prevent the psychological consequences of victimization. Additional intervention is needed, above and beyond social support, to prevent victimization and its psychological consequences.