With Whom and Where You Play: Preschoolers' Social Context Predicts Peer Victimization

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Abstract

This short-term longitudinal study assessed the relations between the social context of children's play (playgroup size, playgroup gender composition, and play setting) in the fall and peer victimization in the spring for low-income, minority, preschool girls and boys. Gender differences in these associations, as well as the moderating effect of children's individual problem behavior, were considered. Using a multiple-brief observation procedure, preschoolers' (N = 255, 49 percent girls) naturally occurring play in each type of social context was recorded throughout the fall semester. Observers also rated children's victimization and problem behaviors in the fall, and teachers rated children's victimization at the end of the school year. Findings suggested that social context variables predicted spring victimization above and beyond fall victimization and individual levels of problem behavior, and that these associations varied for boys and girls. The findings signify the importance of the social context on changes in peer victimization.

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