Dynamic Changes in Peer Victimization and Adjustment Across Middle School: Does Friends’ Victimization Alleviate Distress?

Published on Sep 1, 2019in Child Development
· DOI :10.1111/cdev.13038
Hannah L. Schacter8
Estimated H-index: 8
(SC: University of Southern California),
Jaana Juvonen38
Estimated H-index: 38
(UCLA: University of California, Los Angeles)
Although some adolescents are chronically bullied throughout middle school, others may only experience peer victimization temporarily. This study examined the effects of time-invariant (average level) and time-varying (year-to-year) victimization experiences across middle school on adolescents' depressive symptoms, somatic complaints, and self-blame. A key question was whether friends' victimization buffered students from their victimization-related distress. The diverse sample (n = 5,991) was surveyed four times between sixth and eighth grade (Mage at sixth grade = 11.54 years). Three-level multilevel models revealed both time-invariant and time-varying effects of victimization on adjustment, but these maladaptive associations were attenuated when adolescents' friends experienced more victimization across middle school. The results suggest that even temporarily victimized youth may have unmet mental health needs, and sharing social plight with friends can protect victims. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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