Although associations between peer victimization in childhood and later psychopathology are well documented, surprisingly little research directly examines pathways accounting for these enduring effects. The present study addresses this issue by examining whether maladaptive responses to peer aggression (less effortful engagement coping and more involuntary responses) mediate associations between peer victimization and later depressive symptoms. Data were collected on 636 children (338 girls, 298 boys; M = 8.94 years, SD = .37) for three consecutive years beginning in 3rd grade. Findings supported the proposition that peer victimization predicts lower levels of effortful engagement coping and higher levels of involuntary engagement and disengagement responses to stress. Moreover, these responses to stress helped to explain the link between 3rd-grade peer victimization and 5th-grade depressive symptoms. No sex differences in these linkages emerged. These findings build on prior theory and research by providing a more nuanced understanding of how and why peer victimization serves as an early risk factor for depressive symptoms.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
|Published - May 4 2015
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology