Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Kara Wettersten


While there are many studies looking at the characteristic of defenders in bullying situations, the literature regarding defender behaviors and substance use is lacking. In a sample of rural adolescents, the current study aims to examine the relationship between defender behaviors, substance use, biological sex and age. Rural middle and high school youth from six Northern Plains schools in the Midwest (N = 264) completed a self-report survey. Surveys were created to examine defender behaviors and substance use, and a demographic questionnaire collected biological sex and grade level. Grade level was used in place of age. A relationship between defender behaviors with biological sex and age was not found, but the relationship between defender behaviors and substance use was significant. Adolescents who reported higher levels of defender behaviors also reported lower levels of substance use, and vice versa. Limitations and future directions are discussed. Findings support the need for additional research into the relationship between defender behaviors and substance use.