Personal and Familial Predictors of Peer Victimization Trajectories From Primary to Secondary School

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Abstract

Using a sample of 767 children (403 girls, 364 boys), this study aimed to (a) identify groups with distinct trajectories of peer victimization over a 6-year period from primary school through the transition to secondary school, and (b) examine the associated personal (i.e., aggression or internalizing problems) and familial (family status, socioeconomic status, the parent–child relationship) predictors. Peer victimization was assessed via self-reports from Grades 4 through 9 (ages 10 through 15 years), aggression and internalizing problems were assessed in Grade 4 via peer nominations, and the parent–child relationship was assessed in Grade 7 (i.e., right after the transition to secondary school) via parent-reports. Growth Mixture modeling revealed 1 group (62%) who experienced little victimization in primary school and even less in secondary school, another group (31%) who was victimized in primary but not or much less in secondary school, and a third group (7%) who was chronically victimized in both school contexts. Boys were more likely than girls to follow any elevated victimization trajectory. Chronic victimization across primary and secondary school was predicted by nonintact family status and a combination of both internalizing problems and aggression compared with nonvictimized youth. In contrast, transitory victimization during primary but not in secondary school was predicted by aggression, but not internalizing problems. Support as well as conflict in the parent–child relationship also showed significant, albeit distinct associations with the different peer victimization trajectories.

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