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Keywords:

  • victimization;
  • classroom behavior;
  • gender differences;
  • rejection

Abstract

We tested whether gender-specific vs. common classroom norms were more powerful moderators of the association between a risk factor (rejection) and peer victimization among girls and boys. The participants were 1220 elementary schoolchildren from grades 4–6 (with 10–13 years of age). We compared different multilevel models including combined vs. separate regressions for boys and girls, as well as the effects of norms of the whole class, same-sex classmates, and cross-sex classmates. Among girls, the association between rejection and victimization was strongest in classes where bullying behavior was common, and anti-bullying attitudes were rare among girls. Among boys, the strength of the slope of victimization on rejection could not be explained by either common or gender-specific classroom norms, but boys' level of bullying behavior was related to overall classroom level of victimization. The findings suggest that contextual factors may contribute to victimization especially among high-risk girls. The importance of exploring multiple levels of influence on children's social development is discussed.