Assessment of Bullying Perpetration and Victimization for Parents of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Principal Investigator(s):
Hannah Morton
Grant Type:
Graduate Research
Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York
Year Awarded:
Education and School Aged Children; Families


Bullying victimization is a common problem in school-age children, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are bullied more frequently than their peers without ASD. The higher rate of bullying in ASD is concerning because there are many negative effects of being bullied, including physical and mental health problems. It is not yet clear why children with ASD are particularly vulnerable to bullying, in part because researchers define and measure bullying in varied ways. Lack of an agreed-upon definition or assessment measure for bullying in ASD makes it difficult to compare findings across studies. The proposed study seeks to develop and validate a questionnaire that meets recommendations from previous research for assessment of bullying in ASD. We will compare responses across 300 parents of children with ASD and 150 parents of children without ASD about the bullying and victimization their children experience. Validation analyses will explore the factor structure of bullying, identify exemplar behaviors for each bullying type, and examine how bullying and victimization behaviors may differ for children with and without ASD. Structural equation modeling will demonstrate relationships among bullying and victimization frequencies with different types of bullying (i.e., verbal, physical, relational, cyber), and reveal how individual characteristics (e.g., language level, ASD symptom severity, mental health symptoms), and demographic variables (e.g., gender, age, school placement) are related to bullying and victimization in children with and without ASD. These results will inform adaptation of bullying interventions specific to the experiences of children with ASD. Future research may also use this questionnaire to establish mechanisms of bullying vulnerability in ASD and better understand how bullying in ASD may differ from children with and without other disabilities. Additionally, clinicians and school providers may use this questionnaire to better understand the day-to-day bullying and victimization experiences of children with ASD.

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