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Longitudinal Associations Among Youth Depressive Symptoms, Peer Victimization, and Low Peer Acceptance: An Interpersonal Process Perspective

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  • This study was conducted as part of the Pathways Project, a longitudinal study of youth psychosocial/scholastic adjustment. The Pathways Project is supported by the National Institutes of Health (1-RO1MH-49223, 2-RO1MH-49223, R01HD-045906). Portions of this study were completed while the first author was supported by a National Research Service Award given to Arizona State University by the National Institutes of Health (T32MH-018387). This article is based on a dissertation submitted by Karen Kochel to Arizona State University while under the advisement of Gary Ladd. The authors thank committee members Becky Kochenderfer-Ladd, David P. MacKinnon, and Kimberly A. Updegraff for their valuable contributions.

concerning this article should be addressed to Karen P. Kochel, School of Social and Family Dynamics, PO Box 873701, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701. Electronic mail may be sent to karen.kochel@asu.edu.

Abstract

A longitudinal investigation was conducted to explicate the network of associations between depressive symptoms and peer difficulties among 486 fourth through sixth graders (= 9.93 years). Parent and teacher reports of depressive symptoms; peer, self, and teacher reports of victimization; and peer reports of peer acceptance were obtained. A systematic examination of nested structural equation models provided support for a symptoms-driven model whereby depressive symptoms contributed to peer difficulties; no evidence was found for interpersonal risk or transactional models. Analyses further revealed that victimization mediated the association between prior depressive symptoms and subsequent peer acceptance. Results extend knowledge about the temporal ordering of depressive symptoms and peer difficulties and elucidate one process through which depressive symptoms disrupt peer relationships.

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