08-02-2019 | Original Paper
Subtypes of Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Self-harm Behaviors Among Children Affected by Parental HIV
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Child and Family Studies | Uitgave 9/2019Log in om toegang te krijgen
Peer victimization is a salient stressor contributing to self-harm behaviors in children. However, the psychological mechanisms underlying this process are not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine the role of depressive symptoms in the relationships between subtypes of peer victimization and self-harm behaviors among children affected by parental HIV using a prospective design.
Participants in this study consisted of a subsample (N= 521, 6–12 years of age at baseline) of a larger research project on the psychological adjustment of children affected by parental HIV. Children self-reported subtypes of peer victimization including physical, verbal, and relational forms, depressive symptoms, and self-harm behaviors.
Structural equation models showed that verbal victimization, but not physical or relational victimization, was associated with increases in self-harm behaviors over a 24-month period (β = 0.18, p = 0.029). Moreover, the association between verbal victimization and self-harm behaviors was mediated by increases in depressive symptoms (indirect effect = 0.04, 95%CI [0.01, 0.08]), controlling for baseline self-harm behaviors, depressive symptoms, gender, AIDS orphan status, and age. In addition, such a mediation pathway was consistent across gender.
Depressive symptoms might be a psychological mechanism linking verbal victimization to self-harm behaviors among children affected by parental HIV. The findings highlight the importance of detection of depressive symptoms as a potential way to prevent self-harm behaviors among victimized children or those at high risk of experiencing peer victimization such as children affected by parental HIV.