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Trajectories of Peer Victimization and Perceptions of the Self and Schoolmates: Precursors to Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

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  • This article was based on a doctoral dissertation by Wendy Troop-Gordon completed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Portions of this study were conducted as part of the Pathways Project at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University, a larger longitudinal investigation of children's social/psychological/scholastic adjustment, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (1 RO1MH-49223, 2-RO1MH-49223, and R01HD-045906 to Gary W. Ladd). Special appreciation is expressed to Karen Rudoloph, Dorothy Espelage, Philip Rodkin, and Alison Ryan for their helpful comments and assistance with this study. We would also like to express our gratitude to the children, parents, and teachers who made this study possible, and to members of the Pathways Project for assistance with data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Wendy Troop-Gordon, 102C Minard, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA 58105 or Gary W. Ladd, Department of Family and Human Development, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA 85287-2502.

Abstract

Evidence indicates that peer victimization is predictive of later maladjustment, but the mechanisms by which harassment impairs development have yet to be identified. The objectives of this study were (a) to discern normative trends in peer victimization experiences and self- and peer perceptions during preadolescence and (b) to investigate associations between individual differences in these trajectories and changes in psychosocial adjustment. A sample of 381 children (196 girls; 185 boys) was followed longitudinally between the ages of 9 and 11 years. Latent growth curve analyses revealed that, although children's self-appraisals became increasingly positive during preadolescence, their appraisals of peers became more negative. Moreover, analyses supported the contention that self- and peer beliefs act as mechanisms through which victimization is related to psychological dysfunction.

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