Child maltreatment and bullying victimization among a community-based sample of sexual minority youth: The meditating role of psychological distressedit
Child maltreatment and bullying victimization disproportionately affect sexual minority youth. Little research exists that explores psychological distress as a modifiable risk factor connecting these two forms of victimization. Utilizing a community-based sample of sexual minority youth (N = 125, 15–19 y/o), this study provides estimates of child maltreatment and bullying victimization, identifies their associations, and explores psychological distress as a potential mediator. Approximately 46 % of the sample reported moderate to extreme childhood emotional abuse, followed by physical abuse (34 %), sexual abuse (32 %), emotional neglect (28 %), and physical neglect (26 %). Higher levels of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were associated with more frequent bullying victimization. Psychological distress mediated the relationship between emotional abuse and verbal bullying victimization only. Additional research is needed to explore other potential mental health mediators (e.g., emotional dysregulation, posttraumatic stress). Addressing psychological distress holds the potential to prevent or reduce verbal bullying victimization by improving social functioning.