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Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

Race, Social Networks, and Bullying

FOA Number: CE04-049 - Grants for Dissertation Awards for Doctoral Candidates for Violence-Related and Unintentional Injury
Project Period: 8/01/04–7/31/05
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000410-01
Principal Investigator: Robert Winchell Faris, MA
School of Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
319-D Roseanu Hall, CB7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440
Phone: 919-843-5424
Fax: 919-966-2921


The long-term goal of this research is to understand the relationships between race, social networks, and bullying behavior. The first objective is to understand the relative importance of three broad sets of variables—family background, social position in a peer network, and physical development—in predicting bullying and victimization, and how those relationships vary by race and ethnicity. The second objective is to better understand how the consequences of bullying and victimization vary by race. The second analysis will examine a variety of outcomes, including school attachment, academic performance, mental health and suicide risk, popularity, delinquency, substance use, and self-esteem. The third objective is to detect whether, and under what conditions, bullying is racially motivated. This involves examining bullying from a dyadic perspective, asking whether mixed-race pairs of students are more likely to involve victimization (compared with same-race pairs), and what factors—especially racial diversity and racial friendship integration—mitigate or exacerbate victimization. The ultimate end of this research is to inform abuse-prevention efforts that address these contextual differences.

Data for the research come from a longitudinal social network study of three North Carolina counties. All 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (more than 6,000 students) in the three counties have been interviewed biannually for 2 years, and will be followed for 2 additional years. In addition to questions concerning substance use, mental health, parenting style, school involvement, academic performance, and other background questions, students are asked to nominate up to five of their closest friends, providing invaluable information about peer influences. Students are also asked to nominate those whom they pick on and those who pick on them and to describe the form and frequency of abuse.