Students’ physical victimization in schools: The role of gender, grade level, socioeconomic background and ethnocultural affiliation

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Prior research on students’ school victimization has mainly centered on the effect of students’ personal characteristics, namely gender and grade level. Although students’ personal traits cut across all cultures, a question too often overlooked is whether victimization patterns remain similar for different cultures and ethnicities. Further, gender and grade-level patterns may change across different ethnic and cultural contexts. This study employed analysis of variance to explore physical victimization patterns in schools by students’ gender, grade level (fifth or eighth grade), and ethnocultural affiliation (Arab or Jewish) using a nationally representative sample of students in Israel (N = 75,060). Because school violence may increase in the context of poverty, the study controlled for school and student socioeconomic background. The unique structure of schools organized around language and culture in Israel allowed for identification of systematic dissimilarities and commonalities among distinct ethnocultural groups of students. Greater victimization emerged among male, lower-grade, and minority-status students. The findings further indicate that ethnicity and culture not only influenced the level of students’ physical victimization, but also significantly changed the effect of gender and grade level across ethnocultural groups. Interaction effects showed a greater gender gap at eighth grade, compared with fifth grade, and a greater grade-level gap among minority students, compared with majority students. The increased gender gap across grade levels was more pronounced among minority students compared with majority students. This paper discusses the complex influence of culture and ethnicity on students’ victimization, considering socioeconomic status, distribution of authority, age hierarchy, and gender roles across cultural contexts. Directions for future research that will allow for greater cross-cultural understanding and implications for more effective and context-specific schools practices are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105048
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Grade level
  • Physical victimization
  • School violence
  • Socioeconomic status

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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