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11-09-2020 | Empirical Research

Peer-Related Factors as Moderators between Overt and Social Victimization and Adjustment Outcomes in Early Adolescence

Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Jill M. Swirsky, Hongling Xie
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Peer victimization is a pervasive problem for early adolescents, yet not all victims experience the same adjustment difficulties. The prominence of peer social relationships during adolescence suggests that peer-related factors (e.g., peer support) may be important for victim outcomes. This study investigated the moderating effects of three peer-related factors (peer support, peer preference, and social status) on the association between peer victimization (overt and social) and adjustment outcomes (loneliness and aggression) using a longitudinal design. Self-report and peer nomination data were collected from 321 participants from three middle schools in the Northeastern United States during the fall and spring of seventh grade (Mage = 13.01; 49% African American, 31% White, 19% Hispanic). The findings suggest that peer-related factors contribute to victim outcomes. Both forms of victimization were positively associated with loneliness under high peer preference and were negatively associated with aggression under low peer preference. Sex differences were also noted. Overt victimization was associated with decreased aggression only among girls under low peer preference, low peer support, or high social status. The findings suggest that parents, school officials, and mental health professionals should consider peer-related factors in providing support for victims, especially female victims.

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