Craig D. DiGiovanni of Boston College, and Brian W. Koenig with K12 Associates in Middleton, Wisconsin, realize the negative social and psychological impact bullying has on adolescents. In a recent study, the team assessed over 15,000 adolescents to determine what factors influenced the effects of bullying. “Students who face bullying report multiple academic and mental health concerns,” said the team. “Multiple studies indicate that LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning) youth report greater victimization, distress, and poorer academic performance than heterosexual youth.”
The teens reported their ethnicity and sexual orientation. Additionally, the researchers evaluated victimization, parental support, suicidality and level of school belonging. They found that parental support in white teens was responsible for a decrease in effects felt from bullying. But the same was not true for LGBTQ teens. “Many LGBTQ youth face or fear parent rejection because of their identity,” said the team. “Thus, parent buffering effects may be weaker for these youth.”
The study also revealed that white heterosexual teens and LGBTQ youths were more likely to consider suicide when the victimization was homophobic. “The effect for heterosexual white youth is congruent with other associations between homophobic victimization and mental health concerns among mostly white heterosexual samples and reports that youth view this as especially stigmatizing,” they said. “This link to suicidality underscores the need for counseling psychologists to become part of school-based prevention programs, especially those that address the interplay between bullying and prejudice for all students.” They added that teens of color often conceal their sexual orientation, increasing their vulnerability to the stress of victimization. “Specific to LGBTQ youth of color, this finding highlights the need for attention to the intersection of social identities and how this adds complexity to the minority stress model.” They said, “Counseling psychologists may draw on strengths, resources, and coping strategies from youths’ experiences of racial discrimination in ways that could also buffer the effects of homophobic victimization.”
Poteat, V. P., Mereish, E. H., DiGiovanni, C. D., & Koenig, B. W. (2011, August 22). The Effects of General and Homophobic Victimization on Adolescents’ Psychosocial and Educational Concerns: The Importance of Intersecting Identities and Parent Support. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025095
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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